Magazine article Marketing

Hooked to the Silver Screen

Magazine article Marketing

Hooked to the Silver Screen

Article excerpt

The successes of British cinema and the growth of multiplexes are renewing interest in the potential of the medium.

Those in cinema advertising believe it is a medium whose time has come. After years stuck below 1% of advertising spend, there is now real hope that the medium's upsurge in popularity will at last be reflected in some significant growth in advertising expenditure.

The enthusiasm is being driven by two things: there is renewed interest in UK cinema following the recent success of British films such as The Full Monty and Sliding Doors, and the massive new cinema building programme which is this year seeing new screens opening at a rate of six a week.

Add this to Hollywood's continued ability to create blockbusters which catch the public interest, and you can see why attendances are hitting new highs for modern times. There were 131 million attendances last year compared with 124 million in 1996, and audiences have been rising steadily since the low of 54 million in 1984. The first quarter of this year saw the highest figure for 26 years.

Cinema may be a re-invigorated medium ripe for exploitation, but if it is going to see significant growth it will have to win it away from a plethora of new screen-based media thrown up by the advent of digital technology.

Perhaps a reflection of the exacting nature of the task is that there has already been one false start. Last November, as things settled down after the two sales houses, Carlton Screen Advertising (70% market share) and Pearl & Dean (30%), settled a dispute over market share, the formation of the Cinema Advertising Bureau (CAB) was announced.

Having seen the success that the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) had capitalising on the increase in the number of radio stations at the start of this decade, the thinking was that an independent marketing organisation could do the same for cinema.

The idea was kicked about for a month or so until it was realised that, not only is the radio industry's multiple sales-point situation very different from the duopoly of cinema sales, but also that the CAB's role could not be sufficiently distinguished from the existing and jointly funded Cinema Advertising Association (CAA).

So the industry has now reverted to plan B: a marketing committee within the CAA jointly driven by marketing directors at Carlton and Pearl & Dean.

"Once we sat down and had a look at it we decided the CAB idea did not make sense; they've got 20 people at the RAB looking after all the radio stations, and there is only us and Carlton in this market," says Pearl & Dean's managing director Peter Howard-Williams.

"It still remains as a concept and will fulfil a RAB sort of responsibility, but it will become a marketing function within the CAA," says Adam Poulter, managing director of Carlton Screen Advertising.

With the new strategy in place, Carlton Screen Advertising has appointed Charlotte Stockting, previously corporate sales and marketing director for Conde Nast, to the new post of marketing and research director. Pearl & Dean says it is in the final stages of interviews for a similar appointment, although there is some scepticism as to whether the smaller sales house really needs its own senior marketing executive.

Joint initiatives

Assuming the appointment goes ahead, the plan is for these two marketing executives to sit on a new marketing committee within the existing CAA to work on initiatives for growth of the medium.

One of the most straightforward activities that the new committee will undertake will be funding research. Craig Harris, national sales controller at Pearl & Dean, says that research might, for example, look at cinema attendances during the World Cup football championship and be used to persuade distributors not to abandon such times so drastically as they are this year.

He says that Caviar, the cinema research survey, will also be updated by the new committee. …

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