PMMAO 2008 / REVIEW 2007 / CINEMA : Of onscreen glitz and swanky multiplexes

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Hits or flops, the films always remain a desired platform for marketers. Last year was also not different with cinema advertising faring well, though the there weren’t many blockbusters the box offices had to offer. On-screen advertising picked up further momentum as marketers know that it will always have a captive audience and the power of cinema will not die, no matter the number of flops on the rise. According to the fifth edition of the Pitch-Madison Media Advertising Outlook, the cinema advertising genre touched Rs 104.5 crore last year from the previous year’s Rs 55 crore driven by a hefty growth rate of 90 percent, thereby cornering 0.6 percent of the overall ad pie.

Going by the number of films, the domestic film industry is among the largest in the world as it churns out over 1,000 films a year.  The Hindi, Telugu and Tamil film industries produce over 200 films each. According to the latest Ficci-Price waterhouseCoopers report, the film industry is around Rs 8,500 crore.

Every year there are 10-12 blockbusters, but last year, the Hindi film industry saw fewer blockbusters. The few flicks worth writing home about are Partner, Chak De India, Om Shanti Om, Welcome, Partner, Heyy Babyy, and Taare Zameen Par. Some big banner releases like Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Aja Nachle and Laga Chunri Mein Daag were bombed in the box offices.  Still, the industry saw  significant growth, according to popular film critic Rajeev Masand.

But despite all this, the year was good in terms of cinema advertising, if the Kanakia Group, the parent company of Cinemax India, is to be believed. Cinemax is a multiplex chain that has so far set up 51 screens with 13,907 seating capacity. Cinemax has theatres across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Assam and Haryana. The company is planning to set up 100 more screens this year and also to enter Bengal, Andhra and Tamil Nadu.

“The total ad revenue from the on-screen business is mere 1.1 percent of the advertising revenue. It is close to Rs 200 crore and with new multiplexes being added every day, the share is getting fragmented,” says E-City Media, which a specilaised cinema ad agency, vice-president Anand Vishal.

The Fun Cinemas multiplex chain, owned by Ecity Digital Cinemas of Zee Group, has currently 53 screens across Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Hydera bad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Agra, and Panipat among other cities.

PVR Cinemas is another big multiplex chain that is spread across 24 cities through a network of 96 screens. According to PVR Cinemas general manager for marketing Gautam Dutta,   “the on-screen cinema advertising has got huge potential and it is yet to be fully tapped.  In 2008 we are going to get this media audited. Because there are several big advertisers who refrain from this medium because they believe that it is not audited. There are lots of plans on the anvil,” points out Dutta.

He further reveals that his company has exclusive tie-ups with Airtel, Hero Honda, Pepsi, Maruti Suzuki, Seagram and McDowell to boost ad revenues. Many other multiplexes have tie-ups with agencies Dimples Cine, Cinemedia and Salvos to hook these big advertisers, while some others rely on internal teams to mop up advertisements.

Last year, Dimples Cinema grew by  around 40 percent. According to its spokesperson, the clients today are looking at 360-degree presence through cinemas, and innovations in terms of brand placement, branding, kiosk activities and various other innovational promotional activities. Dimples has been providing in-theatre advertising solutions to many brands since 1992 and it has clients like Airtel, Cadbury, LG Electronics, Bajaj Auto, Reliance, Samsung, and ICICI Prudential Life among others as its core advertisers.

Along with growth, the segment has also seen some healthy new trends. “A lot of small and medium films got noticed. A lot of good films go unnoticed for the lack of advertising budget. There is lot of marketing muscle that is coming in. Hence, even the smaller films, interesting films are getting a chance to make a noise.  That is a real good trend that has happened last year,” says the film critic Masand.

With the mind-set of audience changing and they are becoming more selective, sometimes also opting for small but good films, the occupancy level at the movie halls has not suffered much. That in turn has helped the ad industry positively. Besides, the scope of Hindi films has also expanded and language barrier has been broken. There are takers for different types of movies. Rajnikant-starrer Shivaji The Boss went beyond the Tamil-speaking audience creating national ripples.

All these have reaffirmed the faith of marketers in the medium. But still, as some pointed out, lack of audit mechanism makes many marketers critical about on-screen advertising. With the industry people claiming to set up formal body to solve the issue, the medium is not just going to stay, but grow bigger in the days ahead. It is perhaps the only medium where the marketer gets captive audience for almost three hours, giving him ample opportunity and eyeballs to shoot his message. Hence, most big marketers put their money in on screen advertising now, though theatre advertising was limited to social messages earlier.

Looking ahead, our survey projects this medium to grow by 50 percent to touch Rs 157 crore in 2008. The survey also projects the medium to register a marginal increase in terms of its share in the overall advertising market with its share likely to go up a notch to touch 0.7 percent from current 0.6 percent in the year 2008.

About the author / 

Neeta Nair

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