Festival Intelligence: Creating blockbuster cinematic brand experiences | M&M Global

Festival Intelligence: Creating blockbuster cinematic brand experiences

A giant screen fully equipped with surround sound, set in a darkened auditorium that gives consumers a sense of escapism from the real world; the immersive environment that cinema presents is unmatched by any other medium. The ability to see, hear — even smell, taste and touch — during a visit to the cinema offers a unique platform for brands to appeal and engage with a captive, attentive audience by tapping into all their senses.

WARC’s latest Global Ad Trends report suggests that cinema is the only media channel other than mobile expected not to lose share of global advertising spend this year. In fact, cinema ad spend is expected to rise 7.7% to $4.7bn in 2019.

Despite the threat of rising competition from online streaming giants Netflix and Amazon, nothing can quite compete with the experience cinema offers. The cinema is a place for consumers to escape and fully immerse themselves into the world of entertainment and storytelling – giving brands the perfect opportunity to step in and be part of that. You could say that when it comes to creative brand experiences, cinema is entering its golden age.

Looking at shortlisted entries in the ‘Best Use of Cinema’ category at the Festival of Media Global Awards 2019, the experiential nature of the cinema environment has enabled brands to become the lead protagonist in their own right by capitalising on its ability to create genuine, interactive connections with audiences.

Three-quarters (75%) of entries in this category come from Europe with the remaining 25% implemented the US. Half (50%) of the cinema-centric campaigns were implemented by Food & Beverage advertisers, 25% by Finance and 25% by Technology brands — showing the breadth of opportunity for cinemagoers to connect with a range of brands and products.

The biggest recurring theme throughout entries was in creating stand out experiences that not only entertain but really resonate with consumers, often by aligning with cultural themes and moments.

No longer just a visual motion ad that appears on the screen before a movie starts, a number of brands are taking the cinema experience a full 360 degrees by owning the moment – from entry to the cinema foyer with sampling and experiential techniques to engage with the product, through to the pre-movie ad creative that is contextually relevant to the film they are about to watch, and supported with social and online activities that enables consumers to continue the brand experience well beyond the moment they step out of the cinema doors.

For Food & Beverage brands in particular, an interesting element was the use of gamification techniques linked through the ad that appeared on the big screen; by creating a mini-game on mobile phones that encouraged consumer participation to play along with a competition mechanism that meant the highest scorer could win products — again, another way of adding a further layer of engagement to enhance their overall experience.  

In reference to a Digital Cinema Media (DCM) report unveiled late last year which found that the big screen is the only channel that 16-34 year olds actively plan to pay attention to, Karen Stacey, CEO of DCM said: “They like brands, they expect quality content and are receptive to advertising in the right context. If we continue to follow current practices where young people feel ‘hounded’ they will choose to block advertising but, if we put the wow at the start of campaigns in premium, trusted environments we can deliver a big impact for brands.”

It might be one of the most classic offline mediums, but by adapting cinema in more creative ways that tap into consumers senses, brands can create a blockbuster experience that will capture the hearts, minds (even taste buds!) of consumers. Cinema’s greatest potential is cut-through creativity in an immersive, engaged environment. Lights, camera, action!

We put the spotlight on two Festival of Media Global Awards 2019 shortlisted entries, which highlight this trend:


Our Mission: Disavow Cybercrime Through the Power of Cinema | NatWest | Zenith | DCM | UK

Shortlisted for: Best Use of Cinema (SILVER WINNER)


NatWest wanted to align with cultural moments in THE most entertaining environment to engage with its core 25-54 year-old audience. A long-term strategy to align with cinema was perfect for the brand, but DCM and Zenith wanted to take it further. How could they help NatWest create ‘films before the films’ that maximised not only the power of the big screen but also the context of the movies cinemagoers were paying to pay attention to? And how could they achieve this with no budget for an official film partnership?

DCM’s creative division, DCM Studios, identified three of 2018’s biggest blockbusters with relevant storylines – Ocean’s 8, Mission: Impossible – Fallout and First Man, and partnered with Recipe to create ambitious cinematic content inspired by the films. The creative smartly aligned with iconic movie moments but transported them to a unique NatWest world to showcase its cyber safety and security features in an entertaining and memorable way. The ‘films before the films’ were scheduled in the Silver Spot and were also repurposed for social media, attracting enough views to become NatWest’s most successful campaign ever.

But this still wasn’t enough. The mission also needed to capitalise on the experiential nature of cinema. DCM Studios and Zenith launched an in-foyer cinema activation on the opening weekend of Mission Impossible – Fallout, which gave the most early-adopting of cinemagoers the chance to experience NatWest’s facial recognition technology first-hand. Over one weekend, 193,565 people scanned their faces to get a movie star match-rating based on their unique facial features. This ended with a brand promotional message reiterating that facial recognition technology eliminated the need for manual password input, reducing the risk of fraud.


Toms’ Hygge Cinema Takeover | Toms Guld Barre | OMD | Denmark

Shortlisted for: Best Use of Cinema


“Hygge” dominates Danish culture. It’s a quality of coziness and feeling comfortable, warmth, a sense of belonging – and often linked with the pleasure of eating sweets. It’s Danes secret to happiness helping them be the world’s happiest nation. Uniquely for Denmark, two thirds of cinemagoers arrive in time to watch the commercials as they find the commercials an integrated part of the cinema experience. It is also the ONLY place GenY’ers are ready to put away their mobiles. The cinema is almost the definition of a social “hygge occasion” and, after streaming, cinema is the media Toms’ young target group use most based on affinity.

The strategy to launch the new “Guld Barre” variant was to take ownership of the beloved social “hygge occasion”; The Cinema Experience. To create the ultimate Toms hygge-moment in the cinema visually and mentally, OMD created touchpoints for all senses; taste, feel, sight and sound. It wanted cinemagoers to be exposed to Toms in every step of the cinema experience and to engage the otherwise passive audience to take an active part in this hygge-occasion. To break down the barriers towards commercial messages and catch their drifting attention, it exposed them to Toms in three steps: Indulgence, Engagement, Awareness.

The execution comprised of three main components, a tailormade commercial spot, gamification of the Toms brand universe and product sampling. With the famous Danish crime author Jussi Adler Olsen’s movie “Journal 64” coming up, the choice for a fitting blockbuster was easy. The audience were invited to play a 7-minute long branded mini-game on the big screen using their mobiles as a joypad while they wait for the commercials and film to begin. The game is a complex scenery of Toms’ haunted house and the main character from the brand universe. The gameplay was intuitive and as player one must get through the house’s maze and collect points before the time runs out. The proud winner could collect Toms products in the lobby candy-shop.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply