It’s obvious when you think about it. Carlton Communications owns
Technicolor, which not only produces film stock and other technical
services for the film business but actually duplicates and distributes
copies of feature films to all US cinemas. And Carlton also knows a
thing or two about cinema advertising because it owns the medium’s
largest sales house in the UK, Carlton Screen Advertising.
Put the two together and what do you have? You have Technicolor
Entertainment, that’s what. Technicolor Entertainment is to be the name
of the group’s cinema advertising operation in the US, which will be
launched on 1 October and headed by Adam Poulter, currently Carlton
Screen Advertising’s chief executive. There are also plans to rebrand
the UK operation and use the Technicolor Entertainment banner to launch
cinema advertising operations around the world.
The underlying belief is that cinema is a seriously underexploited
medium - and the US, according to Carlton sources, is a prime case in
Cinema over there is a regional medium and you can understand why.
Without the logistics in place - the Technicolor distribution network -
getting the right advertising copy to the right places at the right time
across a country the size of the US would have been a nightmare.
But the logistics of the advertising operation are actually about to
become even easier. Last week, Carlton bought Real Image Digital, which
is pioneering the digital electronic distribution of movies for
theatrical screening. Cinema is about to evolve beyond celluloid. To
talk of ’film’ will soon be as anachronistic as talking about ’dialling’
a telephone number.
All of which means it can be done, but will this interest US national
advertisers - the ones that now use network TV? Lisa Seward, media
director of Fallon McElligott in Minneapolis, agrees with the Carlton
assessment that there is plenty of potential for growth in US cinema
She explains: ’Several years ago there was strong sensitivity to the
risk of audiences not liking ads before their movies, but this seems to
have diminished markedly lately. Personally, I think there is more
potential for cinema here. Increasingly, advertisers are seeking ways to
break out of more cluttered media - out-of-home advertising, for
instance, has benefited from this. And as consumers become more and more
accepting of cinema ads, I think more cinema companies will sign
Seward has one reservation - she’d like to buy cinema by movie title,
instead of by screen, which is how the system now operates on both sides
of the Atlantic. And that, potentially, would suit Technicolor
Entertainment just fine, because its long-term ambition is to sell the
cinema medium internationally. Its belief is that Hollywood films are
It’s the most international medium there is.
But is it? Some in the business believe they’ve heard that sort of thing
before. The outdoor industry has begun toying with internationalism -
the medium’s lack of editorial content means there are no linguistic
barriers and a poster is a poster wherever you are in the world.
Magazines like Elle and Cosmopolitan are franchised around the globe.
Time Warner and the Murdoch empire have both set up international
advertising sales offices in New York. But we’ve yet to see a stampede
of advertisers desperate to do international media deals.
Is the international angle a genuine opportunity? Iain Jacob, executive
director of Motive Communications, says it could be possible. He says:
’The selling of cinema in the UK is more sophisticated than you’ll find
in most other major markets, so Carlton’s move to export that expertise
is a very positive business opportunity. However, in the short term they
are unlikely to be able to bring a multinational sell to clients because
you have to sort things out on a local basis before you can look at a
Jacob argues that some clients are now willing and able to look at that
picture too - media owners have merely failed to grasp the
’The frustration is that big media owners tend to present clients with a
list of everything they do without selling the tangible benefits of
using it,’ he comments. And he adds that it could genuinely work in
cinema because some advertisers are already effectively running the same
copy at the same moment across a whole region. ’You could certainly talk
to clients about their use of cinema on a regional basis. And yes, that
might be interesting if it was on the basis of an advertiser associating
with particular films. I like that idea.’