One of my first jobs out of college was selling airtime for ITV in London during the reign of King Charles II. I was terrible at selling airtime but was really good at guesstimating the ratings. I had a real feel for what would be popular and watched countless hours of TV. I was in tune with the medium. “Center break of A COUNTRY PRACTICE on Wednesday? 3.2 households. Easy!”. I could “feel” the audience attention like sand running through my fingers. I loved that part of it. Knowing what turned on other people turned me on. I have never lost that.
As I have watched everyone’s attention get splintered by the internet, I have been utterly fascinated. The internet has now been reduced to three sites: facebook, twitter, and that site you like a lot. Unfortunately those sites aren’t hospitable to advertising and internet advertising is annoying anyway. advertising doesn’t REALLY BELONG there. Problem. Huge problem.
Years ago I remember thinking that the antidote to the internet would be outdoor (or more correctly OUT OF HOME) advertising. Everyone’s got to leave their house and look around them at some point. And increasingly I’m thinking I was right. And one of the biggest opportunities here creatively has to be cinema advertising.
We’ve had some luck with this medium. The great thing about cinema is that people are in truly optimal viewing conditions. They have actually paid money to stare at a screen for 90 minutes. And you are part of that viewing experience. You are on that screen. That’s a big responsibility creatively speaking. What you show these people had better be good viewing. In this viewing situation their enjoyment of your film has to come before your marketing agenda. You have to be delicate here.
In the UK, they used to treat cinema as its own discrete medium. Separate, more epic and entertaining creative executions. Separate media budget. This was the big show. The funny epic cinematic ads were part of the cinema experience in Europe. TV was the main show culturally speaking, but the lesser opportunity executionally. And this remains the case. You cannot beat cinema. You HAVE the audience. monstrous screen. awesome sound system. It’s like the Superbowl. But much better. And it happens every day!
Cinema going is still very popular. And Hollywood has been plying its craft for a very long time. They know what they’re doing. And as the easy money of DVD sales peters out, look for them to come out swinging. 3D movies, 4D, 5D movies, whatever!
Here is a cinema spot we produced for client OfficeMax a couple of years ago. It’s 53 seconds long. Why 53 seconds? Because that was the optimal time length to tell the story. Can’t do that on TV! This was a trip to watch on the big screen with 5.1 surround sound.
And here is a more recent 2:15 cinema ad for client Lunchables.
2:15. That sounds like a lot of time but really it isn’t.