Thanks for Coming... Have a Mint?

While going to the movies may have gotten a little expensive, it’s still one of the nation’s cheapest, most accessible forms of entertainment. People “enjoyed the show” more than 1.4 billion times last year (a 42-year high), and experts see these numbers rising in 2003.

There’s little surprise then that brands & agencies alike are realizing the potential buying power of this youthful, educated, affluent, and captive audience.

In-theatre marketing started with slides on screen, a medium that boasts a 66% rate of recall – nearly three times that of traditional media. Next down the pipe came rolling stock – 35mm commercials advertising something other than upcoming films. These days, moviegoers can expect to see hundreds of advertising messages from the moment they enter the building, right up until they leave.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Though I’m sure some of you are asking “how far is too far,” to my thinking, we’re not even close to the edge.

As a marketer, I’m a big fan of the cinema. After executing countless street campaigns where I’ve had to deal with weather, permits, and storage, a theatre lobby is a much-welcomed sigh of relief. In a theater lobby it’s always sunny, there’s no waste in distribution, logistics are streamlined, you can target your audience, and who doesn’t love those hot pretzels with cheese?



I think marketing should always strive for the next level. And theater chains just might be that next level. I’ve worked on theatre-based campaigns that transformed a defunct video wall into a “living billboard” by replacing posters and TV monitors with live actors, garnering press nationwide for clients ranging from Broadway shows to dot-coms to major cable networks. If a client and agency can work together to combine the above efforts with on-screen advertising and exit sampling, we’ve achieved integrated, interactive, cost effective, targeted campaigns.

Critics complain that we’re bombarded with more and more street level advertising everyday, but you know what? Who cares? If these ads and promotions are fun, provide added value, and don’t interrupt my day, I say bring it on. Entertain me, educate me, and sell to me. In my mind, going to the movies will always be a source of enjoyment. Perhaps the day I’m forced to sit through a time share presentation before watching Anthony Hopkins tear someone else’s face off I’ll think otherwise. But until then, “whaddaya got in the bucket this week?”

Jonathan Margolis is a partner and co-founder of the michael alan group. He can be reached at

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