IMPACT, issue dated 18th February 2013
Advertising at movie theatres may be the fifth or sixth preference for a media planner, and the market size still a fraction of the total advertising pie. But the market is growing at 35-40%. Shobhana Nair decodes the numbers behind in-cinema advertising, and what it means for advertisers and cinema owners Picture this: Sunday evening, you’re at a multiplex to catch that Bollywood multi-starrer you’ve long waited for. Phone’s muted, pop-corn is in place, the lights dim. Suddenly, you almost jump out of your seat as there appears a Censor Board certificate with the title of ‘Lagaan’ or ‘Rangeela’ which released over a decade ago. The next instant, you see the words ‘Shock laga kya?’ followed by the Havells logo. Any multiplex regular worth his pop-corn would agree that these films-prior-to-the-actual-films have both improved and increased in the past decade. And though not all of them would manage to induce chuckles among the stands as the above campaign (2010, during the releases of De Dana Dan and Peepli Live) did, truth is that this industry (yes, it deserves to be called one) is growing with eyebrow-raising pace. That said, in-theatre advertising (not to be confused with ‘infilm’) is as old as the Bachchans and Dilip Kumars themselves. From projector ‘slides’ of Lux soap to the perennially running ‘Vicco Turmeric, nahin cosmetic’ jingle (as rare as single screen theatres now), the trend became a norm and is now a medium by itself.
Raking up the numbers
Let’s get down to stats straightaway. Cinema advertising is just 0.5% of the total advertising pie, but this still meant a revenue close to Rs 210 crore in 2012 (according to Magna Global). It is the reach and impact of this medium that’s making us sit up and chart its growth. S Venkatesh, Sr EVP – Director, Intelligence Practice of Magna Global explains, “Cinema advertising has grown at a CAGR of 11% in the last five years. It has seen its share of low points though. In 2009, while the stalemate between theatre-owners and producers was one of the reasons, IPL and the swine flu scare kept the audiences away. In 2012, while most advertisers maintained their budgets, government spending on cause and consumer awareness went up significantly, curbing the de-growth.” Anand Vishal, Sr VP - Operations & Sales, Fun Cinemas, states, “The total advertising pie may sound less, but it’s an important chunk for the multiplex owners. On a ticket worth Rs 100, cinema owners don’t pocket the entire amount. It gets divided among different stakeholders. But when it comes to ad revenue, we bag the entire amount and hence it stands at about 50-60% of the total multiplex bottomline.”
Needless to mention, we’re talking about the world’s largest film industry in terms of movies churned out every week, and footfalls to theatres are assets waiting to be captured by brands. Siddharth Bhardwaj, CMO & National Sales Head – Corporate at UFO Digital Cinema feels, “Entertainment is the most aspirational space for any advertiser to be in. The brand wants to be where the viewer is in a positive frame of mind. This year, we have already doubled the number of advertisers through cinema advertising.” To spell out what he refers to, UFO earned an approximate Rs 35 crore during the last financial year and it’s now targeting around Rs 75-80 crore in 2012-2013. The confidence comes from the fact that from 200-odd clients last year, it has fetched close to 350 of them this year. And how? Well, we see a direct link between that and UFO’s exclusive tie-ups with 3,000 screens in India. Which media planning agency would find it tough to identify key markets this way? The other leading cinema advertising medium – Qube Cinema Network (QCN) by Real Image Media Technologies Pvt. Ltd. has a network of 1,700 screens across the country with a strong presence in the South and it claims to have a reach akin to a General Entertainment Channel (GEC). In fact in Tamil Nadu, QCN is second only to Sun TV in terms of effective reach in the state. MS Rajagopalan, President of QCN, believes that cinema advertising in India has the potential to cross the Rs 1,000 crore mark. “People have always considered cinema in a tactical way for big occasions such as Diwali, Eid or the A-list release. With this attitude, the industry will remain small, at Rs 200-250 crore. Our mission for it - to make it larger – is strong. Of course, cinema cannot replace TV, but can definitely stand alongside it. Research clearly establishes TV plus cinema works better than TV alone,” he says, adding, “there’s a media multiplier effect that TV and cinema bring in.” In order to provide metrics like TV does, QCN took the initiative and appointed The Nielsen Company to conduct a survey based on the house-to-house IRS pattern. This analysis in Tamil Nadu shows that, even using a conservative impact ratio of 1:3 for one exposure on cinema over one on TV, QCN can generate effective reach that could rank it amongst leading TV channels.
Gautam Dutta, COO – PVR says, “Over the last seven years, we have had double digit growth because everyone is looking at this medium carefully. We get the most discerning audience, willing to pay extra. For our clients, we do regular researches to know about this customer. How many times do they watch cinema, what kind of cinema do they watch, what pricing works more? All this and more is researched and shared with the clients for them to plan better.”
AKASH CHAWLA, Head of Marketing, National Channels, Zee “We launched Dance India Dance 3 during the festive season along with one of the major blockbusters of that year, Don 2. Keeping in mind the high footfalls in theatres and markets during this time, we thought we should present something to surprise people and at the same time make them recall their favourite dance show.” KAPIL SHARMA, VP Marketing, 9X Media “9XM plays the latest hit Bollywood music, so the audience at cinema halls is a good fit for us to reach out to Bollywood movie lovers. Rather than using traditional on-screen ads, we’ve chosen to opt for the mandatory slides at Cinemax & Plaza Theatre.” CINEMA IS THE CHOICE! Ruosh, a footwear brand for men based out of Bangalore, used cinema as an effective medium to target its audience. The brand made commercials only for cinema viewers with lines like ‘Sadly, we make shoes only for men, who probably can’t wait for the movie to start.’ Mohini Binepal, Business Head Retail, Ruosh says, “In the last three months, we have advertised during 10 English movies, 11 Hindi movies and four regional language movies. We advertise in genres ranging from comedy to pot-boilers to action to drama. In fact, we are thinking of tying up with movie theatres at least for six months, if not annually, to get efficiency and better costs. A major percentage of our consumers indicate that they came to know about us through theatre, which gives us the confidence.”