Advertising in Movie Theaters

Advertising in Movie Theaters

Another method of delivering the message that is increasing quickly (to the dismay of many) is the use of movie theaters to promote products and/or services. Commercials shown before the film and previews, with both local and national sponsorships, have replaced cartoons. In addition, ads in theater lobbies, at kiosks, and on popcorn tubs and drink cups are used. For example, Coca-Cola Co. has frequently advertised the Coke Classic brand in movie theaters. PepsiCo, Sears, Gap, and Target have also employed this medium, as have numerous other companies. McDonald’s, Clairol, and Toyota are prime users. At least one study has estimated that more than one-half of all theaters show ads before the films. The growth rate has averaged 20 percent a year sine 1992, resulting in a $400 million industry by 2001. On videos, companies place ads before the movies as well as on the cartons they come in. Pepsi advertises on the video of Casper. Disney often promotes its upcoming movies as well as Disney World (10 minutes of advertising preceded The Lion King on video). (If you have ever rented a Disney movie, you are well aware of this!) The Canadian government has shown “stay in school” spots, knowing that the movies are a good way to reach 12- to 17-year-olds. Dozens of other advertisers have also used this medium, including Sega, AT&T, and DeBeers.

Consumer reaction to ads in movie theaters is mixed. A number of studies have shown that most people think these ads are annoying or very annoying. But in an Advertising Age/Gallup national sample of moviegoers, 35 percent were against a ban on ads in movie theaters and another 21 percent were unsure whether such a ban should be enacted.31 The survey was taken after Walt Disney Co. announced it would stop showing its movies in any theater that runs on-screen advertising along with the films. While advertisers were infuriated, Disney claimed its surveys showed that customers were extremely irritated by such ads and as a result might quit coming to the theaters. (Disney still bans ads, and some movie chains refuse to accept them as well.)

Adam Snyder, writing in Brandweek magazine, believes that pushing movies is acceptable but beyond that consumers are likely to react negatively. Nevertheless, Blake Thomas, marketing vice president for MGM/UA Home Entertainment, claims, “We could conceivably sell as much air time as we want, since advertisers cannot resist the temptation of reaching tens of millions of viewers.”


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