AdAge: Marketing at the Movies 4/22/08

So earlier today I attended the Marketing at the Movies trade show put on by Advertising Age and sponsored by National CineMedia at the AMC Theater on Illinois St. here in Chicago. Below are notes and quotes that I took down during the day

The theater is huge, with two levels you need to go up before you actually get to the concession stand and screens on the third floor. That leaves plenty of floor space for promotional standees like the ones Iron Man, Wall-E, Kung-Fu Panda and Get Smart that I snapped pictures of along with a bunch of others. There’s also lots of wall space for an absolute metric ton of posters. (Later Note: Pictures will be coming shortly.)

NCM had a cool display of the Reatrix ad technology on the floor in the main lobby. I tried it out and you really can interact with it, kicking basketballs into hoops and doing puzzles and everything else. It’s very neat and, based on the comments of those from NCM I was talking to is a big hit, especially with kids.

I’ve attempted to keep some decent notes from the goings-on.

Opened with a montage of clips from spots and trailers that are included in NCM’s FirstLook block, including clips from Iron Man, Hulk, Prince Caspian, Get Smart, Hancock, Speed Racer and a bunch of others. There was even an LG/Iron Man spot in there for a brief moment. All very cool and very slick, very much a demo reel to attract the ad buyers in the audience to show them what NCM’s capabilities are, including a mention of targeting a “captive audience.”

Opening: Jonah Bloom, AdAge

  • Only a decade or so ago, cinemas were seen as no-go for advertising. “No Country for Ad Men” may be the line to beat today.
  • $650M business in 2007.
  • Marketers have to enhance the experience, not just interrupt it.
  • Just did the “Milkshake” line from TWBB. Wow.

State of the Cinema Union: Jeff Giles, Entertainment Weekly

  • “Hollywood is only really interested in kitchens”
  • “simulated sex among the hanging copper pots.”
  • Box office grew last year – due to higher ticket prices. It’s great to hear someone say this.
  • Many of the recent successes have been franchises and remakes, as well as PG and PG-13 movies that are good for the whole family.
  • Some great comments from him on the top ten movies from last year.
  • This year Hollywood can make more money by making movies people love.
  • 25 potential blockbusters this summer, more or less a record high.
  • Potential top 10: Indy $355, Narnia $310, Hancock $280, Wall-E $283, Iron Man $262, Batman $255, Panda $224, Mummy $176, Hulk $147, Tropic $142 (Sex, X-Files “oh they’re fucked”, Get Smart, Pineapple “anyone who bets against it is high”, American Teen)
  • In 2008 franchises don’t have to be noisy and terrible. Once HWood realized they could make money from sequels (99, powers 2) they realized they had to make them well, not just slap them together.
  • Public is more loyal to movies than to movie stars, giving studios the power.
  • The people who are most obsessed with tech are more into movies and are going to theaters.
  • Eventually studios will figure out a better window for theatrical/home video releases.
  • 78% of guys would rather see movies in theaters than at home. 68% (?) of women.
  • Older audiences need to be lured more pro-actively to theaters.
  • Studios are paying for theaters to go digital, and theaters are offering more options in terms of content, food and more to bring people in. 3D seen as one way theaters are differentiating themselves.
  • “Sense of community…” Not sure about this.
  • Mid-tier movies will still be made, though discovering them is left up in the air.
  • Asked about Batman and whether it was put at #6 because of the lack of branding. But Giles says it has more to do with WB still being unsure of how to market the movie around the death of Heath Ledger. He mentions the lack of marketing materials and I assume he’s talking about the mainstream campaign.

Big Trailers: Dave Kupiec, EVP S&M National CineMedia

  • Content brings excitement and anticipation
  • Butts in seats is a good things for advertisers, which of course is NCM’s focus
  • Trailer previews
    • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – The same spot that was released a couple weeks ago with Scrat (?) looking for a nut and then falling through into the lost world of dinosaurs. “In Digital 3-D”
    • Narnia: Prince Caspian – the spot with the kids entering Narnia through the London underground and being told they’ve been gone for a really long time by the metrosexual prince before then confronting all the beasties.
    • Get Smart – I think this is the most recent trailer, the one that got people excited again about this movie after a couple of the first spots didn’t go over too well.
    • The Dark Knight – This is actually the first time I saw it on the big screen and, well, it kind of rocks. I still love the “Why so serious” line.
  • No red-bands? That’s a little disappointing. Come on, we’re all adults here.

Panel “Innovative Use of Cinema”: Bloom, David Krupp (Kinetic), Bob Martin (Martin Media Consulting), Jack Sullivan (Starcom)

  • Krupp: Talks about the difficulties in getting different kinds of spots cleared for showing before certain ratings of movies. One spot for Chef Boyardee and one for Axe body wash, both essentially cross-media plays.
  • Sullivan: One for LEGO and one for Tide. Talks about integrating the Mission Mars (lego) guy into the entire FirstLook block. Also mentions how the Tide spot was created by P&G specifically for cinemas and not for TV at all. marsmission.lego.com. Pretty funny Tide spot with the Tide stick.
  • Martin: Windows Vista and how the FirstLook block was designed to look like it was flipping through windows screens. BSG spot for a first-run episode that was shown in theaters before running on TV.
  • Sullivan: Some clients do focus on the cinematic look and feel in creating spots specifically for cinema advertising. That makes it more unique and provides something new and memorable as opposed to re-purposing a TV spot.

Yep. “No Country for Ad Men” is still the high-water mark in terms of one-liners as of 9:45. Some good discussion but that’s so far the one to beat.

  • Krupp: Writer’s strike, with the ad buyer’s desire to put their stuff around new content, was a real turning point.
    Nielsen measurement and its integration into broadcast is providing some momentum since buyers like numbers.
  • Sullivan: Cinema inventory hovers around 70 percent sold out and it’s its own entity, requiring a specific practice area within agencies to deal with it as opposed to lumping it in with “outdoor” in general.
  • Martin: Digital delivery is great and is helping this along. But there needs to be creative work done and the client needs to have the budget to create high-quality stuff that is appropriate for big-screen display. Falling short of that and you’re just honking off the audience.
  • Sullivan: Buyers need to be in on the beginning of the creative process so they can make sure there’s budget for cinema ads in there and that it’s not tacked on as an after-thought.

Can you imagine what would the reaction of the audience here would be if I were able to live-Twitter this? And if I was able to display it? Half the audience here would probably be stroking out. That alone makes me wish there were Wi-Fi here. I’m all for scaring the stiffs, as Dr. Venkman would say.

  • Bloom: Is the siloing of media, even within the outdoor video space, part of the problem? Especially when it comes to the very beginning of the process?
  • Martin: Clients demand metrics and ROI, which is what drives demand for in-agency experts. That is what drives siloing to a great extent.
  • Martin: “The media with the best metrics are the least impactful.” I kind of want to give this guy a hug right now.
  • Krupp: There’s a land-grab within agencies to own in-theater largely because of the revenue potential there.
  • Sullivan: Everyone has their own research, but what’s needed is a universal set of metrics and it might be OVAB or other industry group that needs to come up with that.

I’m just curious whether the woman from Screenvision next to me is watching what I’m writing here. Yes? Can’t tell. Again, that kind of makes me wish I was on Twitter right now. Hello?

  • Krupp: We try to create good spots but it’s also not like people are getting up and walking out. It’s not taking away from the movie itself. Plus there are increasing ways to create an entire experience that begins in the lobby and into the theater.

OK I’m at 53% power left. Power may become a concern soon. Hopefully I can find an outlet during the upcoming popcorn break.

  • Martin: The fact that people can’t forward through the commercials in theaters makes it more efficient than TV buying. I’m considering taking back the hug I mentioned earlier.
  • Sullivan: Including LEGO kits in the kids packs at the concession stand was actually effective enough to increase LEGO sales, as well as providing a boost to concession sales and everything else.
  • Krupp: There are so many opportunities in theaters, including utilizing the screen and the sound and the rest of the environment, that allow for some truly creative ad work to be done.
  • Krupp: Clients actually have begun asking why cinema in the plan, and want to know why specific creative won’t get cleared for running in theaters or other reasons why it isn’t.
  • Sullivan: The historical modeling that is prevalent in media planning is going to be, by its very nature, more weighted to traditional media than to “ascending” media.

Maybe its the un-conference person in me, but while this is great there would be a lot more value if some of the concerns and questions from the people in the audience, the ones who are truly down in the trenches, built into this panel discussion.

  • Krupp: Is there a place for mobile marketing or downloads of some sort after the movie is over? Possibly.
  • Martin: You need to be respectful and aware of how dependent on their mobile devices the younger part of the audience is.
  • Sullivan: Brings up Tru Media, the shop that is able to track who is looking at what part of the screen, technology that could play a role in designing creative elements and provide some rough demographics.
  • QUESTION: Does a bad movie (translation: bad viewer experience) impact the perception of the brands advertised beforehand?
    • Martin: No, the quality of the movie doesn’t seem to impact recall, affinity or other levels of the commercials.
    • Someone just referred to Screenvision as “the other vendor.” I’m impressed the folks next to me aren’t audibly gritting their teeth.
  • QUESTIONS: All about metrics
    • Martin: ROI can’t quantify emotional impact and other “fuzzy” levels like engagement and such.
  • QUESTIONS: What happens when what you thought was the CPM you were buying turns out not to actually materialize?
    • Audience just laughed uncomfortably at the fact that this might be the toughest question of the morning.
    • Martin: Those who take the biggest risks will reap the rewards. CPMs will go up, but there will be metrics to back it up, especially those metrics that track eyeballs that have seen the ads.
    • Sullivan: How close are we getting to the decision maker at the point of purchase? Interesting, since theaters are about as far from the point of purchase (assuming the lack of mobile interface) as you can get, even further than in homes.

Popcorn Break
Technology in Cinema:
David Polinchock, Brand Experience Lab

  • Shows video of people playing the MSNBC Newsbreaker game in theaters and talks about the experience of the audience
  • Says stories from theater managers came in that people were making sure their movies were playing on a screen with the game.
  • Found in exit interviews that 10-15% higher enjoyment of the movie after playing the game.
  • Shows an experiment with turning a print ad into an on-screen 3D virtual environment.
  • Now we’re actually playing Newsbreaker.
  • Brand marketers need to be providing a fun, interactive experience to enhance audience enjoyment.

Jim Bell, SVP National Sales Reatrix

  • Sizzle reel of footage of people in malls and other locations interacting and reacting to both the floor and wall displays.

Oh yeah. My feet are sticking to the floor for the first time. Now I’m having the movie theater experience.

  • Some interesting figures and such here, but this is mostly a sales presentation and is the driest of the day so far.
  • Consumers now in control and are opting out of advertising. Interesting…tell me more?
  • Metrics from Reactrix now include how many are actually looking at the and interacting with the ads. 92 and 75% respectively.
  • “Brand advocacy lift” from the ads is 78%. There’s something there.

Ken Venturi, SVP Chief Creative Officer NCM

  • Showing off the 3D technology
  • Next 3 to 5 years should see a lowering in the production of 3D material, which will lead to higher adoption
  • Going to get preview of Kung-Fu Panda in 3D.
  • NCM is looking to include 3D ads before 3D movies. But that technology is still about three years away. Not sure if he’s actually talking tech or the affordability, but that’s what he says.
  • The KFP preview was pretty cool. Just an action sequence from, seemingly, the middle of the movie and sans setup. But it did show off how the movie is going to look and how it compliments the action of the film. Very cool.

Ruby Anik, SVP of Brand Marketing J.C. Penney

  • Fun little video about the evolution of advertising as it’s progressed from 1.0, or just how people began to alert others to happenings, to 7.0, which is about ad-blocking as a way to cope with information – and ad – overload.
  • Hollywood has realized there’s always an audience for good content and has adjusted its schedule to release big films year-round.
  • Studios spend an average of $34 million marketing their new releases.
  • Force Factors:
    • Chaos: Technology and media habits are changing
    • Consistency: Desires and behaviors remain constant, it’s the tools that change.
    • Fragmentation: More choices, less opportunity for mass reach
    • Inundation: Viewers create filters to cope with so much information
    • Authenticy: Audience wants respect and transparency, not lectures and deception
    • Consumer Control: Power is shifting
    • Depth: Users want the ability to dive deep into information at a time and place of their choosing
    • Engagement: Adding this to reach and frequency as a metric is vital
  • Imperatives:
    • Be where the audience is, don’t make them come to you
    • Be experience-able, don’t just blast a pamphlet at people
    • Be valuable, or you won’t get people’s attention
    • Be genuine, or face the consequences when you’re exposed.

All in all a great day. There was a lot of good stuff, as you can see here, and I met some very nice people. Thanks to National CineMedia for inviting me to attend and cover it.