Up Against The Wall

“Guess I should have caught your call

But I just had to waste the phone, forget it all

Bones are trembling, hands are cold

You don’t know how it feels; you’ve got me up against the wall”

“Up Against the Wall” –Peter Bjorn and John

Usually I use the quote from a movie or one of my favorite songs to describe an insight about some marketing and entertainment topic. But today I’m using the line “Up Against The Wall” to describe being on deadline for this article – I’m literally up against the wall of my deadline, after spending the entire day in back-to-back meetings, and phone calls. Yikes! That said, I do have a bit of a rant to discuss. Cinema advertising used to be tolerable but in the past two years it’s gotten out of control. And my back is against the wall or a chair in this case. 



Early in my career, I was involved in a few product launches that tapped into the power of in-auditorium cinema advertising; it was inexpensive, it has great geo-targeting, reach and the audience is practically locked into the room. What a great audience to generate new product awareness. We found clever ways to produce content designed for the cinema experience that was, I called it, additive to the cinema experience. Well, since those days of yonder, cinemas have iterated the concept a bit and today we have about 15-20 minutes of unadulterated ads. It’s too much and cinema-goers can’t stand it. In fact, I along with most everyone I know plan being 15 minutes late to the show to avoid the barrage of ads. We usually pick a straw to see who goes in to save seats and endure the torture. 

The in-auditorium cinema ad model needs to iterate. Some cinema chains, such as the Sundance Cinemas, have created premium product offering, with assigned seating, beer and wine and, most importantly, no 15 minutes of forced ads. Granted, not all chains can offer such a premium service but there are other solutions. Weave better content into the ads (not just lame trivia), create a shorter ad experience or adjust the length of the ad exposure. There are all sorts of paths to improve; doing nothing is unacceptable. The marketing and entertainment world is full of creative people. I know a better solution is out there from this group. 

As marketers, we always talk about designing an engaging experience for consumers that surrounds vs. interrupts. Failure to innovate will drive consumers away or tune out messaging. When this consumer has to go to a cinema with 15 minutes of entertainment interruption, I most certainly tune out and focus on my mobile device -- it’s my escape hatch from in-auditorium cinema ads when my back is against the wall. 

And since you’ve read this far, how about sharing your thoughts with the other readers. Perhaps we can crowd-source a solution and make all our cinema lives a little better. I’ll save you an aisle seat!

3 comments about "Up Against The Wall ".
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  1. Paige Montgomery from Self-employed, November 8, 2012 at 5:52 p.m.

    I love your choice of topic! I have felt this way about in cinema advertising for years! It seems like the ads that they show are from the 80s and the way they are designed exemplifies how little the advertisers care about engagement. They are obviously just banking on the fact that people will see their ads when the film is sold out and movie goers will have to snag a seat 20 mins in advance.

  2. Sam Canchola from San Jose State University, November 8, 2012 at 6:07 p.m.

    I agree, I think cinema advertising is just an easy route for media buyers to disperse their chunk change. Until they start utilizing other platforms like mobile (i.e. qr codes, augmented reality ads, etc.), our multi-tasking generation will continue to just turn to Facebook Mobile till the movie starts...

  3. Courtney Brook from RadiumOne, November 8, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.

    I agree, Paige! I hate seeing the same old trivia question pop up 6 times before my movie even starts, even if it is presented by my favorite brand. Cinema advertising has the potential to make an extreme impact on audiences- the entire theater is seated facing the screen, waiting to be entertained. With a some innovation, these screens could once again add to the movie experience.

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