Media: Double Standards - 'Watch out for Harry Potter, Narnia and King Kong'

Two cinema sales directors discuss the benefits of going digital, how to get the most out of advertising on the big screen and what movies they want to see next.

ADAM MILLS SALES DIRECTOR, CARLTON SCREEN ADVERTISING

What exactly is digital cinema and why is it taking so long to arrive?

Digital cinema is about delivery and projection of film without the cumbersome use of 35mm. The technology is there but comes at a great expense - it will eventually be down to how the bill is split between the film distributor and the exhibitor.

What are the implications of digital cinema for audiences? And for advertisers?

Audiences will have more access to more films and wider choice. Digital will enable copies of ads and films always to be in tip-top condition. The significance for advertisers is that coverage and frequency levels will go up and production costs will go down. The advertiser will be able to reach bigger numbers more often.

Why has Carlton been able to snatch a larger share of total cinema screens?

As with any sales contract, our deals are based on good service, relationships and delivering the promise. Our recent renewals of the large multiplex circuits merging into the two largest UK exhibitor groups and CSA securing these contracts is testament to this.

What will it mean for cinema advertising? Will these mean a change in prices?

CSA's new share will allow for a more flexible and creative media sales service across a greater proportion of the cinema multiplexes. As regards to the changes in prices, cinema in its entirety still represents less than 2 per cent of all advertising revenue. Therefore, any growth in market share by either sales contractor will never allow the outright opportunity to just increase price. Clients will always have options on where to spend their budget.

How much does non-spot advertising account for your revenue?

Less than 10 per cent of our revenue comes from non-spot advertising.However, our sponsorship and promotions team are kept busy with sponsorships and sampling events, plus live in-cinema ad campaigns.

What's the most inventive non-spot advertising idea you have come up with?

The Brylcreem live in-cinema naked man "ad". To prove the point "all you need is Brylcreem", an actor came in pretending to be the cinema manager apologising for a naked man wandering in the foyer. That man, wrapped in nothing but a poster, then walked in and attempted to sit with the audience, before being asked to get decent, to which he replied that he was because his hair had been styled by Brylcreem (boom boom).

How many screens have you got? How often are they completely full?

There are 3,472 screens in the UK; CSA holds the majority with 2,146, but this will change for CSA in January 2006, because we have been awarded the contract to handle the recently merged Cineworld/UGC. Full houses are common, but it depends on the day of the week, time of day or even the weather.

What film are you most looking forward to in the next few months?

Cinderella Man with Russell Crowe. I think he's a bit of a twat, but a great actor in great films.

What do you expect will be the next cinema blockbuster?

Harry Potter will no doubt deliver but The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong in the run-up to Christmas will be the ones to watch out for.

Is there anything you'd change about your job?

An expense budget that would allow me to take some key cinema advertising clients to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, with a week's skiing for our efforts.

CLAIRE TURNER SALES DIRECTOR, PEARL & DEAN

What exactly is digital cinema and why is it taking so long to arrive?

Digital will replace 35mm as the new technology in cinemas. Hollywood has just agreed a universal format, which will prevent a Betamax/VHS situation. The next question is who will pay for the roll-out of the digital projection equipment.

What are the implications of digital cinema for audiences? And for advertisers?

No comment.

Why has Carlton been able to snatch a larger share of total cinema screens?

Over the past five years, Pearl & Dean's share has grown from 30 per cent to 40 per cent in the UK, and from zero to 25 per cent in Ireland. Recent consolidation has fallen in Carlton Screen's favour with the UGC/UCI merger.

What will it mean for cinema advertising? Will these mean a change in prices?

Cinema, as a 2 per cent medium, must always remain competitive. This is regardless of share between contractors. It is not in advertisers' interest for there to be a monopoly.

How much does non-spot advertising account for your revenue?

This is a huge growth area for Pearl & Dean as a growing number of advertisers take advantage of the unique aspects of the foyer and other areas of cinema beyond the big screen. Our innovations team delivers more than 10 per cent of our revenue and this figure will only increase.

What's the most inventive non-spot advertising idea you have come up with?

Pearl & Dean is uniquely positioned to offer an association with the famous screen titles and our sonic identity. Remixing the famous Pearl & Dean tune and visuals has given Smirnoff, Butt-Ugly Martians and Virgin Mobile a mould-breaking and highly creative way to get maximum benefit from the big screen.

How many screens have you got? How often are they completely full?

Pearl & Dean represents more than 1,300 screens. Outside the obvious peaks around the major releases, cinemas provide a diversity of choice to attract a range of audiences. This choice will only increase with the arrival of the 238 high-end digital projectors from the UK Film Council rolling out this autumn.

What film are you most looking forward to in the next few months?

I'm keen to see The Chronicles of Narnia - the trailer looks amazing. Also, Roman Polanski and Ang Lee have releases this autumn with Oliver Twist and Brokeback Mountain, which are generating fantastic word of mouth.

What do you expect will be the next cinema blockbuster?

There'll be at least three movies vying for a top-ten spot: the third instalment of Harry Potter; Peter Jackson's take on the classic King Kong; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.

Is there anything you'd change about your job?

See more films! With more than 450 films to choose from this year, I only get to see a fraction of releases.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).