Cinema: still a smash hit with brands 

In an age of distractions we still make time for cinema

Black and white classics, heart-pounding thrillers, tear-jerking dramas and side-splitting comedies. Cinema has been, and continues to be, one of the most vibrant creative industries in the world with options for all tastes. Even with the introduction of streaming on demand, and not to mention a global lockdown, audiences still continue to visit the cinema. From last year’s hype over Barbenheimer, through to last month’s Dune: Part 2 smashing box office records (it’s now on track to hit $500m globally), and cinema admissions for Q1 up 11% YoY, it’s evident that the cinema medium remains a core part of our society and within the cultural zeitgeist. 

For brands, cinema is also a powerful advertising medium. AA/WARC data earlier this year reported that spend on cinema advertising in Q3 2023 increased by 21.2% year-on-year. It also commands higher attention than many other marketing channels. As research shows, ads seen on the big screen consistently deliver higher levels of recall and personal engagement than other mediums. This means the cinema is an eye-catching canvas for brands to showcase their creativity to great effect. 

An (advertising) offer you can’t refuse

Cinema advertising is no longer simply about the pre-film ad-reels. The medium has evolved with the shifting needs of brands — who are always looking for creative and impactful ways to get closer to the consumer and grab their attention. Recent data from Mastercard reveals that 4 in 5 (80%) Brits say spending on experiences is usually, or always, worth it. Moreover, half (50%) are set to spend more on experiences this year compared to 2023.

With this in mind, blending experiences with the immersive storytelling power of film and cinema allows brands to reach audiences in a compelling and irresistible way. This was the case for luxury car brand Jaguar, which partnered with Everyman to create a truly unforgettable experiential activation for viewers of Babylon, propelling them to the lavish and decadent 1920s Hollywood where the film is set.

Guests were chauffeured to a glitzy event featuring acrobats, jazz, and a 1920s tasting menu in one of Jaguar’s fully electric vehicles, tying the luxury of the moment to the luxury of their cars. 

Brands can also leverage the cinema experience to reach a targeted audience. Luxury dessert brand Gü used this to its advantage by offering a highly targeted independent cinema audience an indulgent sampling experience of its latest creations during the opening weekends of Barbie and Magic Mike 3. The cinema gave a premium environment for its tasting sessions — while also elevating the overall experience for audiences, making it more memorable and delicious.

The beginning of a beautiful film partnership

Film creates social currency among audiences — driving conversations and connection. From Paddington to Minions, consumers have an affinity with well-loved film characters. Consequently, brands can build more meaningful connections with target audiences — some of them hard to reach — by creatively partnering with films. Take, for example, the way that brands capitalised on the hype among Greta Gerwig’s Barbie film last summer. Brands added their own spin to the iconic pink branding and others used the Barbie character in clever ways in their marketing campaigns. 

Boots’ suncare brand Soltan, for example, leveraged Barbie’s character (and what she represents) to supercharge their messaging. Barbie’s love of the sun and summer was used to help educate audiences on the importance of sun protection. And Barbie’s appeal meant she was able to help the brand reach a wider audience — from adults to younger generations.

To infinity…and beyond!

In an age where we as consumers are constantly distracted, we still make time for the cinema and its unique qualities, providing us with distraction-free storytelling. From compelling narratives through to epic tales that fully transport you to a whole new world and time, advertisers have a unique opportunity to align themselves with these powerful stories. 

Cinema can offer experiential activations that blend the reality with film as well as highly targeted film partnerships, meaning that advertisers have got endless opportunities to become creative with their campaigns and reach key audiences in an engaging and non-intrusive way.

So, creatives and brands… in the style of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, I ask, are you ready for your close-up?

Featured image: Louis / Pexels

Clare Turner, Chief Commercial Officer at Pearl & Dean

Biography coming soon

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