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Cinema Advertising

Over the weekend I saw a couple of films, and because I showed up early, I saw most of the ad-reel in front of each film.
A couple of things occurred to me with cinema ads that are relatively unique to the medium:
– Advertisers aren’t scared of running long ads. The Spanish beer brand Estrella is running an ad that’s around three and a half minutes long and is effectively a short film with musical accompaniament. It’s a fun video (although oddly Estrella’s 2009 video rather than their 2010 version which is along very similar lines) with a catchy song. I guess that if you don’t like the music, then it becomes very painful. In the same ad reel, there was also TFL’s cycling ad campaign featuring a similarly catchy number by Mark Ronson (An aside with this is that at 1:24, Radio 1’s Edith Bowman rides right in front of Absolute Radio – although you’ll have to watch the full version to have any chance of seeing it). A Guardian piece today suggested that the £441,000 campaign was based around a £300,000 creative cost and £141,000 media spend. Even allowing for YouTube views that’s an odd way to spend on a campaign like this – in other words spending less on the ad and more on making it seen might have been smarter. But it looks good, and gets the message across relatively well.
– Category exclusivity doesn’t really exist in the cinema. Listen to the radio, and you won’t usually hear ads for two brands for different products in the same category in the same break. Advertisers demand exclusivity. In TV, the same is broadly true too. You might get two ads for non-competing brands in the same break (e.g. a Ford Focus and a Jaguar ad), but even then they’ll be split up. That Estrella ad ran straight into a 60 second Grolsch ad. We also had ads for Heineken (very funny, although it’s a year old, originates in Holland and has been superceded by this excellent one) and Stella. Then there was a Jack Daniels ad, but if that’s just a little too much alcohol, there was also a Buxton ad (and let’s face it, coming up with a way to differentiate your water from any other water has got to be one of the toughest asks imaginable). To be fair, there are normally plenty of opportunities to play ads in other media, whereas cinema has one shot at the start of the film.
– People mostly like the Orange ads, but they don’t listen to the message. I wasn’t totally sure about the A-Team ad, but it’s been replaced by a Jack Black Gulliver’s Travels ad which is pretty decent. But the ad ends with “Don’t let a mobile phone ruin your movie. Turn if off.” I think they also need to address texting and emailing. I saw The Girl Who Played With Fire over the weekend – which is in Swedish. I’m pretty sure the couple next to me didn’t speak Swedish, and even though they’re probably familiar with the story from the novel, I suspect they needed the subtitles as much as I did (Note to Momentum pictures: put a bit of drop-shadow on your subtitles. White text on a white background is really hard to read). So why did they spend half the film alternately checking their Blackberrys? Perhaps they were surgeons on call, or taking part in a complicated legal exchange that needed their minute by minute attention. In which case, they shouldn’t have gone to the cinema. I had to tell them off. If I can’t see you, I’m not fussed. But these devices tend to have illuminated screens, and that means that waving them around is a bit like waving a torch around. I’m going to notice. Especially in a darkened room.