19 May 2014

A study has demonstrated that cinema campaigns are more powerful and effective, by proving they trigger a more heightened emotional response than other media... 

This article by Olivia Roger was originally published in Convergence Magazine, a Humber College Journalism publication, reproduced here with permission.

A silver car glistens as it speeds along the open road, twisting and turning with each swerve of the wheel. Although it’s uncertain where it will lead, as the engine smoothly accelerates to the sound of ambient music, it is mesmerizing.

This beauty isn’t real; in fact it isn’t even the film people have paid money to see. This is an advertisement for a Lexus car that appeared in Cineplex theatres in 2014.

Brands have always found financial success by advertising in print, on billboards, over the airwaves and through television spots. It should come as no surprise the digital era has made multi-platform marketing easier, and the silverscreen is no exception.

Often louder and often longer, cinema on-screen advertising has given companies an unparalleled opportunity to be as creative as the films that follow them.

This is especially true for, an online accommodations portal for travellers. Wieden+Kennedy, an advertising agency based in Amsterdam, creatively led its ad campaign “Booking.yeah.” Their witty advertisements, which use the word “booking” to express a wide range of human emotions, has blown up in Canada recently, particularly in Cineplex theatres. Jordi Pont, the group account director for the campaign, said this is because it is the first time they are introducing the brand to Canadians.

“We feel that with cinemas you go big and want to make a statement as a brand,” said Pont. The ad that appears for 30 seconds on television has increased to a minute for the theatre environment. “Cinema seems like a nice media for a campaign push when you are launching a brand.”

This kind of business plan has encouraged other large companies, such as Stella Artois, Coca Cola, H&M and Telus, to advertise on the big screens.

The increasing profitability of presenting commercial material in such a setting can be alluring for those brands capitalizing on the captive audience.

According to Cineplex, 42 per cent of consumers who are moviegoers have a stronger emotional attachment to film than to major televised events, TV shows, magazines and radio. The impact of such advertisements is also high with an average of 71 per cent total awareness of show-time advertising and 88 per cent correct brand association.

A study conducted between U.S. companies NCM Media Networks and Innerscope Research confirmed this, as they explored the difference between televised ads projected in at-home environments compared to those appearing on theatre screens.

The results? Moviegoers experienced heightened emotional responses when viewing the ads in a cinema setting.

Doug Pulick, head of strategic insight and analytics at NCM Media Networks, said people who choose to go to the movies make numerous positive decisions to leave their home and entertain themselves.

“TV is not a necessarily negative experience but could be a much more passive one. The whole idea is that you seem to be more distracted in a television or in-home environment versus one that’s out-of-home, mainly in a movie theatre, where you’ve made all these positive choices and now you’re sitting back and saying, ‘entertain me’.”

Using a biometric belt to measure skin sweat, heart rate, respiration and motion, two different sets of audiences were shown a one-minute advertisement for Best Buy. The group viewing the advertisement in a cinema setting showed an increase in engagement by 32 per cent within the final moments of the advertisement, when the brand was revealed.

Pulick said when shown the ad was on television, audience members showed a low level of engagement because there was an opportunity to tune out.

“TV allows you to have the reach to get everyone in the country [but] cinema … has a much more effective way of telling that message.”

For companies that target potential consumers, Paul Moore, a film historian at Ryerson University professor and president of the Film Studies Association of Canada, said this approach to advertising is more cost-effective as these commercials are more accessible in today’s digital era.


“With digital projection and digital production it has become easier to have advertising on the screen … and ads have become a really standardized part of the show itself.”

“Digital projection allows you to project ads cheaper and just take a television ad and project it at the movie theatre without having to make film prints on 35 mm film.”

Farzan Dehmoubed, president of Golden Eye Media Inc., sees on-screen theatre advertising to be effective. He has seen his business grow 15 to 20 per cent every year for the last three years. His company is devoted to targeting Canada’s South Asian Market through on-screen, print and point-of-purchase advertising at Bollywood cinemas, giving his clients the ability to advertise through pre-show material, lobby posters, print magazines and movie sponsorships.

“The best success we’ve seen is people who’ve done something on the screen and they’ve combined it with an ad in the magazine. This way if someone sees an ad for a car on the screen they have the information right in their hands in the magazine so they can take that phone number or contact information home with them.”

This kind of multi-platform advertising is also an option at Cineplex theatres. Companies that work with Cineplex can have their promotional material incorporated into TimePlay, a mobile-based interactive movie trivia game that gives audience members the opportunity to win prizes. This has proven to be enticing for moviegoers who would otherwise be seated in silence before their feature film begins. In a polled survey, 89 per cent of moviegoers said they liked the idea of having this kind of interactive experience before the film.

Cineplex’s magazine also offers an opportunity for advertisers to have a print presence. The magazine, which has been around since 1999, is free to all customers. Marni Weisz, the editor, said they have a whole team of sales representatives who sell all of their media whether it’s in the magazine or during the pre-show.

“It all depends on the client and whether they have available print advertising. But if they’re a client and they’re advertising on the screen we will try to sell them an ad in the magazine.”

Although this might spell financial success for brands looking to target a wide range of demographics, one committee in particular isn’t quite sold. The Captive Motion Picture Audience of America has launched the campaign “Stop Pre-Movie Commercials!” announcing publicly that this is “the last straw,” as “the only difference between a movie screen and a TV screen is size.” Although they hope others will follow suit and take a stand against these powerful advertising giants, NCM’s Pulick disagrees. He said the idea of advertisements appearing in cinemas having a negative connotation is simply not true because they play during a period where people are engaged and have time as they sit in the theatre.

it’s undeniable that cinema advertising is an effective business plan that works to entertain the viewerit’s undeniable that cinema advertising is an effective business plan that works to entertain the viewer while gaining corporate profit. Audiences can't quite ignore what is seen to be the "attack of the 50 ft. ad".

See the original article by Olivia Roger in Convergence Magazine here