Audience fragmentation and rising CPMs are making TV such an increasingly tedious ad environment that many kids marketers have begun turning to other screens to get their messages out. And given that G-rated movies like Finding Nemo (US$339.7 million) and The Lion King (US$255.9 million) have unequivocally proven that kids are flocking to theaters, it’s not surprising that this medium’s marketing business has grown by 30% to 50% annually for the past three years.
The key to attracting in-theater marketing partners lies in keeping kids coming through the doors and going beyond simple signage and trailers to find new ways to connect with them. Regal Entertainment Group, the largest cinema chain in the world with 562 theaters, has laid a pretty solid foundation to do just that over the last couple years.
One of the company’s major traffic-driving initiatives is the Free Family Film Festival, which launched in 1991. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings during the summer, roughly 225 Regal cinemas show re-released kid flicks like Muppets From Space and Elf for free. The program brought in more than two million people from mid-June to Labor Day last year. And Cliff Marks, president of marketing and sales for Regal CineMedia, says Regal is looking at running the initiative during other times of the year, such as Christmas holidays, for example.
Looking to drive big-screen viewers to its small-screen Saturday morning block, Discovery Kids has come on-board as a sponsor for the 2004 program. In addition to appearing in newspaper ads and getting prime exposure on signage and plasma screens located in the theater lobbies, DK’s five-minute clip featuring series Tutenstein and Kenny the Shark will grace the screen before each movie starts.
As far as marketing innovation goes, Regal’s biggest claim to fame is its LidRock concession hit – a 32-ounce fountain cup lid that acts as a case for mini-disks loaded with music, movies, video games and multimedia extras. In fact, a survey conducted by Electronic Arts revealed that 50% of customers who picked up the gameco’s Medal of Honor game LidRock in November 2003 played it at home, and 32% bought a large-sized drink just to get the premium. This month’s LidRock will feature Janet Jackson.
Regal eschews the traditional MO of running one lineup of commercials during all of its previews in favor of showing a 20-minute preshow called ’2wenty’ that’s tailored specifically to the demos its movies are likely to attract. Cartoon Network, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios and NBC all contribute two-minute segments featuring unique shorts and promos. Cartoon, for example, created a behind-the-scenes spot and music videos featuring its key characters.
Off-screen, marketers can sponsor concession items like popcorn bags and drink cups, as well as handing out freebies such as candy, coupons and toys. Following a special pre-movie screening of a Teen Titans short in November and December, Cartoon Network distributed Z-Cards, which are plastic cards with pop-out pieces that connect to form 3-D objects.