Media: Double Standards - 'Nothing beats the cinema, however big your TV'

Two industry figures explain that with cinema audiences the highest they've been in years, the big screen presents exciting new opportunities for advertisers.

MIKE HOPE-MILNE - ENTERPRISE DIRECTOR, PEARL & DEAN

- Cinema audiences grew steadily in 2007. Is this purely down to the quality of the blockbuster films on offer?

Quality of film product definitely plays a major role in how many people come to the cinema. However, we are also seeing an overall rise in the base of cinema admissions owing to diversity of film product and the investment in cinema venues. Also, the fact that we had a wet summer in 2007 hasn't done us any harm.

- Pearl & Dean's recent research shows higher levels of engagement with longer ads. Does this mean that all advertisers should go down the route of shooting epic cinema ads?

Not necessarily. Time length is just one factor that contributes to the effectiveness of a cinema advertising campaign. Creative that connects with the cinema-going audience is the most important thing. If the creative is not right, it does not matter how long the commercial is.

- What creative opportunities does cinema advertising offer?

With cinema, you have a captive audience for two to three hours. In that space of time, there are an infinite number of ways in which you can interact and engage with them, be it on-screen or off-screen. The list of opportunities is far too long to squeeze into a short paragraph here.

- Does "live" advertising in cinemas, ie. actors appearing before films, work, or is it just annoying?

As with any advertising, the annoyance factor is down to the delivery rather than the medium. Live advertising can be extremely effective if done right, but is not the only innovative way to make an impact on a cinema audience.

- How has the cinema experience improved for audiences in recent years?

A far broader variety of quality films and venues to choose from to suit all audiences and occasions.

- What's been your favourite piece of cinema advertising in the past year and why?

Sanex was probably my favourite. The creative of the ad was bang on for cinema, and the "talker screenings", getting under the skin of environmental issues, and the other elements around it, brought the campaign together beautifully. The whole campaign created a long-lasting impact with the audience that was exposed to it.

- Why do you think cinema is so far surviving the impact of video-on-demand and film downloads?

Cinema is no longer just a place to go to watch the latest movie releases. It is a social venue for communities to meet and enjoy a good day/night out. The film is no longer the sole reason why people go to the cinema.

- What do you buy to eat and drink when you watch a film?

My local cinema is the Curzon in Richmond, which does these fantastic raisins coated in white chocolate that are completely addictive.

- What's the best cinema experience you've ever had?

I hate to admit it, but my second-best cinema experience to date would be seeing Take That live at Vue West End. Seeing a live act on the big screen in HD is incredible, and is the next best thing to having front-row seats at the event itself. My best-ever experience is not suitable for publication in a reputable magazine such as this.

GEMMA ATKINSON - SALES CONTROLLER, CARLTON SCREEN ADVERTISING

- Cinema audiences grew steadily in 2007. Is this purely down to the quality of the blockbuster films on offer?

There were 518 films released in 2007, and the blockbuster will always be the driver of the cinema industry. 2008 will be no exception with the Sex and the City crew battling it out with Indiana Jones in May, and Daniel Craig back in the 22nd instalment of Bond in November. Cinema for millions of people every year is an affordable luxury.

- Pearl & Dean's recent research shows higher levels of engagement with longer ads. Does this mean that all advertisers should go down the route of shooting epic cinema ads?

Cinema is undoubtedly the most impactful medium to showcase epic creatives, and we are keen to encourage advertisers to take advantage of this. However, recent CSA research undertaken by Work demonstrates cinema's strength as a single-task medium. Through a heightened level of engagement, cinema delivers greater emotion, attention and focus, leading to increased encoding and take-out of messages.

- What creative opportunities does cinema advertising offer?

Advertisers now have to work harder to engage with consumers and create dialogues. In cinemas, the dialogue starts the minute the customer purchases their ticket, and throughout the cinema journey we offer a multitude of touchpoints unique to suit the clients' objectives. This ranges from Volvo's gaming event, Human Joystick, to the 3D Red Bull Air Race ad.

- Does "live" advertising in cinemas, ie. actors appearing before films, work, or is it just annoying?

Free popcorn, sweets and a ticket to another film of your choice courtesy of O2 treats. Annoying?

- How has the cinema experience improved for audiences in recent years?

The cinema is a great place to go. Not only has the physical environment improved with comfy seats, state-of-the-art sound and ease of booking, but the range of product on offer means there is something for everyone. Blockbusters may be cinema's main currency, but your local cinema also offers documentary, Bollywood epics, niche art films, alternative content (sport, music or comedy), a kids club on Saturday, Screamers (crying babies optional) and silver screens with a cup of tea and a biscuit.

- What's been your favourite piece of cinema advertising in the past year and why?

This question has generated a lot of debate on our website. Orange is always very popular, and the Sony Bravia creatives were stunning on the big screen. As a fan of John Lewis, I enjoyed the style and simplicity of the Christmas ad we ran. It is encouraging to see retail brands embrace cinema, and I hope this will tempt others to follow suit.

- Why do you think cinema is so far surviving the impact of video-on-demand and film downloads?

Nothing beats the cinema experience, no matter how big your plasma TV is. The question assumes the two are in competition, and I would challenge this view. Cinema is a social experience.

- What do you buy to eat and drink when you watch a film?

A mint Magnum and a bottle of water.

- What's the best cinema experience you've ever had?

The opening night of the Cannes Film Festival is hard to beat. Back down to reality, however, I am a heavy cinema-goer and enjoy seeing pretty much anything anywhere.