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PVR, Inox Play Up The Big Screen Romance

The siren call of digital media had led many to believe that the era of in-cinema advertising was well and truly over. However, two reports launched in the course of the past few weeks–the FICCI-EY report on media and entertainment and the Pitch Madison report—indicate that reports of the demise of in-cinema advertising may have been highly exaggerated.

In-cinema advertising is growing at 17 percent a year according to the FICCI-EY report while the two reports peg the total revenue earned from advertising by the cinema exhibition industry at Rs 750-800 crore in 2018. The Pitch Madison report puts the growth of the segment in 2018 at 37 percent but, clarifies that the high rates are a result of under-reporting the segment in earlier years. In-cinema advertising was just one percent of the industry’s total advertising expenditure in 2018 (television is still the biggest guzzler), but the point analysts and exhibitors make is that the big screen is increasingly finding favor with a wide spectrum of brands.

From mobile handsets and apps to candy and diamonds, there has been a resurgence of sorts with brands using in-cinema opportunities innovatively. Candy brands for instance set up activity areas for children in the lobby, some air freshener brands have used the washrooms for promotional activities and some have branded the seats and carpeted stairways inside the auditoria. A few years back, Kissan had created a fictitious ‘village’ called Kissanpur, complete with (fake) tomato plants, and green astroturf to promote its tomato ketchup.

Besides increased promotional opportunities, the advertising experience has also become smoother, thanks to the digitization of cinema screens (90 percent screens) and the emergence of multiplexes. The new format improves the quality of ads while allowing advertisers greater flexibility as to when they want to release a campaign. In the past, there were several restrictions which led to ads being released with a time lag in cinemas.

Exhibitors have been more cooperative, which has encouraged brands to experiment more with the medium. Plus the advantage is that it comes without remote controls. All of this will add up in an election year experts said and cinema exhibitors could well be looking at bumper 2019.

“We present the brand in a new context allowing it to form stronger associations with the core proposition. On the other hand, relevant associations to drive brand fit can be tied to specific occasions such as Valentine Day, Film Festival, etc,” said Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR.

Multiplex screens are bigger beneficiaries than single screen theatres. “Thanks to their pan India presence and wide audience base, multiplex chains have a high revenue realization from advertisements while single-screen cinemas have a limited reach and poor consumer targeting, leading to lesser advertisement revenues,” the Ficci-EY report said.

“A steady increase in footfalls propelled by our aggressive expansion rate, an increasing client base and the growing preference for our digital assets in the advertising mix, have been the growth drivers. We have added a massive 63 screens in FY19 till date, which is a record of sorts. We have been agile towards the needs of our clients and have shown a lot of rigour while offering them integrated solutions,” said Alok Tandon, CEO, INOX Leisure. Inox says that it has notched up 38 percent year-on-year growth in Q3 2018 in advertising revenues.

Mutliplex owners say they see merit in partnering with brands. It enhances the experience around the brand and adds a surprise element to the theatre experience, thereby benefiting both exhibitor and advertiser. For instance on Valentine’s Day, Mondelez ran a brand activation for Cadbury’s at PVR theatres in Mumbai. As part of the initiative, couples were interviewed and their videos were streamed live on the big screen. A similar promotion was done for Forever Mark (diamond jewelry) on Valentine’s Day.

“Brands are like personalities, equally unique and diversified. If a brand or campaign has a core thought, PVR offers myriad opportunities to curate and amplify the thought,” Dutta said.―Business Standard

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