The Year Ahead For...Cinema

Danny Barnes believes cinema will continue to up its game in 2013, making it the place to be for both brands and consumers.

Danny Barnes: ‘Cinema has become a faster, more flexible, more effective and more creative medium. A medium that has been totally transformed’
Danny Barnes: ‘Cinema has become a faster, more flexible, more effective and more creative medium. A medium that has been totally transformed’

Every preconception that planners and buyers have about cinema needs to be ripped up and reassessed. Put simply, cinema has become a faster, more flexible, more effective and more creative medium. A medium that has been totally transformed by the changes that have happened or are about to happen.

First, the facts: cinema delivers a healthy return on media investment. This is particularly true when used as part of an integrated campaign, but cinema also performs in its own right (as measured by direct revenue return on investment) while enhancing all other media in assuring higher campaign RROI.

We have evidence to back this up. BrandScience, Omnicom Media Group’s business and marketing effectiveness consultancy, has produced work showing that cinema delivered a £2.84 RROI for every £1 invested and the best carry-over rate of all media nationwide at 72 per cent per week. (The results are from the BrandScience Results Vault database at December 2011 and cover brands in the UK that currently use cinema.)

We have all known for years that cinema delivers engagement and reaches both light TV and youth audiences – the BrandScience study confirmed that cinema doesn’t only deliver soft KPIs, it also drives strong return on investment for the brands that advertise on the big screen. Cinema works.

The second thing to consider is the investment in the switch to digital and what that means to advertisers. The industry has invested £200 million in 3,000 digital projectors in cinemas across the UK, as well as 2,000 hours of software development and the installation of 250 satellite dishes.

Brands now have the option of shorter lead times and greater freedom to choose, change and adapt messaging. Advertisers have the ability to start cinema campaigns on any day of the week and take advantage of shorter copy deadlines (now reduced from three weeks to one) in order to coincide with other media activity. Spots can be booked and scheduled by the day instead of weekly blocks and buying can be as granular as even pinpointing specific showings at specific screens at specific sites. Production is now around five times cheaper and na­tional advertisers can run brand campaigns with a local message capitalising on the fact that 88 per cent of cinemas are located in a high-footfall retail environment. This opens up every single advertising sector, paving the way for new categories and clients.

Third, cinema is being reinvigorated by the sales teams and the constant push to innovate. Digital Cinema Media has tested a mobile app that is designed to both let the audience truly connect with the cinema experience and advertisers truly connect with the audience. QR will enable access to app downloads and augmented reality will allow audience interaction with cinema foyers (the audience will be able to watch exclusive content and even set release-date reminders in phone diaries). Finally, and most intriguingly, the app enables direct interaction with the cinema screen itself with a multiple-choice film quiz and interactive advertising allowing consumers to enter exclusive competitions and download vouchers, while linking them to online and local retailers.

Admissions-wise, 2013 looks like being a strong year. The absence of the major events that were a huge part of summer 2012 allied to the consistent strength of the film offering means there is a great chance of admissions being up year on year.

As ever, there is also great content. The early part of the year is dominated by extremely high-quality, awards-worthy films, including Les Misérables, Django Unchained and Lincoln.

There are a number of marquee superhero titles, which have become a staple of the summer schedule, including Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World (I’m sure it has been the year of the sequel for at least five years running), and also Man Of Steel, a Christopher Nolan-produced reboot of the Superman story.

Aside from these superhero titles, the list of potential blockbusters is the most striking for years, including the prequel to The Wizard Of Oz, Oz: The Great And Powerful; the second film in the Star Trek reboot; and Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. The biggest of all will be The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Brad Pitt stars in an adaptation of the classic post-apocalyptic zombie horror novel World War Z, and there is more sci-fi with Elysium, fronted by Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, and the new Tom Cruise epic, Oblivion.

Comedy fans are very well-catered for, with a third Hangover film; a second Kick-Ass; a new movie from the director of Bridesmaids; the final part in Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, The World’s End; and (what I’m looking forward to most) a debut big-screen outing for one of the greatest comedy characters of the past 20 years in The Alan Partridge Movie.

It is clear that cinema has evolved and has become an effective, sleeker, cheaper, more forward-thinking medium. At PHD, we are at the forefront of this. The opportunity is there.

Danny Barnes is the head of investment at PHD