Cinema advertising rising like a phoenix from the ashes
October 31, 2017 | 5:37 PM
by John Smith*
The picture is used only for illustration purpose.

Muscat: Nasser and Jamila are avid movie buffs. There was a time in the early 90s when they would visit their local movie hall, at least once a week. Then came videocassettes followed by DVDs and the high resolution blue ray discs which gave them irresistible options.

Their viewing habits changed dramatically and they virtually gave up going to the theatre.They preferred to plonk themselves on their sofas and watch the latest movies in the comfort of their homes. Jamila and Nasser were not alone-a majority of the people followed suit resulting in dwindling audiences in theatres.This had a snowballing effect –advertisers cut back on their cinema advertising, overall revenue and investments in cinema halls dropped, theatres got more and more dilapidated and the installed audio and projection technology gradually became obsolete. The situation looked very bleak for the industry.

However, in the last decade or so a dramatic change has been witnessed. Powered by some astute marketers who foresaw a revival of the big screen, the concept of the multiplex was introduced to the country.

Spanking new cinema halls, plush seating, digital surround sound, high definition projection systems, giant projection screens, online bookings and loyalty programmes have transformed the entire cinema going experience.

In addition, new movies with excellent cinematography and mind boggling special effects, backed by high decibel marketing have hit the screen with remarkable frequency. The premieres of many blockbusters have been held in Muscat, a day before the world premieres!

The audiences have come flocking back. The number of theatres and screens has expanded exponentially in Muscat as well as in the interiors. Watching the latest movie with friends or family followed by a meal has become a very popular social outing.

All these developments have gradually brought back the advertisers. From two or three, their numbers have grown dramatically and the “desired maximum” number of commercials before the movie is in danger of being exceeded.

From a marketing and advertising point of view, there are several questions that crop up. Is cinema, now a good medium for advertising? What makes it special? What kind of products are an ideal fit for this medium? Can you exploit the setting for a product launch? Should you invest in cinema advertising?

As far as advertising is concerned, cinema enjoys one major advantage over TV-a totally captive audience. In a cinema hall, the audience is generally focused on what is happening on the big screen. In contrast, TV viewers are distracted by multiple tasks they are attending to and this can take their attention away from your advertising message.

“Cinema ads deliver six times the impact and engagement of TV,” as per a study conducted by the cinema advertising network-Val Morgan.

The other distinct strength that the medium enjoys is the ability to expose your branding right from the parking lot to the screen. For example, an automobile brand could have an attractive display in the parking lot area, a test drive booking counter in the lobby area, additional branding at the food counters along with commercials strategically positioned before the start of the movie. In fact for high involvement products like automobiles, watches and perfumes, cinema halls could provide a very different kind of product launch venue.

Cinema advertising in Oman can prove to be very cost effective, especially if you have a core audience that is located in the capital and the surrounding areas. The unit cost of advertising is fairly low and the eyeballs that you are likely to capture can be quite significant.

The only catch is that creating high quality cinema ads can be very expensive. However, in cases where TV ads are readily available through the principals, this problem also gets easily resolved as conversion of a TV commercial to a cinema ad is fairly simple.

Globally, it has been forecast that cinema advertising will hold its own in the years ahead, albeit with a small share of the total market. So, if you have a budget that permits you to go beyond your lead media and you have a product that can benefit from demonstration or creation of a mood in the advertising message, then cinema might be a medium worth considering.

*John Smith is a seasoned marketing professional who has spent almost two decades in the Middle East. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Times of Oman.

Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know all the latest news