The year 2011 was action packed with Bollywood blockbusters and cinema crazy Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu producing mega blockbusters. The blockbusters were the bait for advertisers and thus cinema fared well in 2011. It clocked a whopping revenue of Rs 140 crore as against Rs 118 crore in 2010.
The projected growth rate for the medium was 10 per cent but it grew at 18 per cent in 2011. The star power is the major reason for the pull of advertisers to the theatres. Sumant Bhargava, Managing Director, Stargaze Entertainment (Glitz Cinemas) says, “The bigger the film, more the advertising. Advertisers are now linking star endorsements into cinema advertising like with Shah Rukh Khan in Ra.One and Don 2 or Salman Khan based ads with Bodyguard.”
While Ra.One, Don 2 and Bodyguard did the trick for Bollywood, 7 Aum Arivu starring Tamil actors Suriya and Shruti Hasan and Panjaa starring Pawan Kalyan and Sarah-Jane attracted advertisers down south. Another grosser was Rockstar which is estimated to have collected Rs 36-40 crore from theatres in the first weekend of its release.
“Around four to five films crossed the Rs 100 crore mark. The advertisers were not expecting this to happen. But patrons walked into theatres in huge numbers,” says Arun Tyagi, Business Head, Big Cinemas.
The medium continued to hold its ad pie share of 0.5 per cent vis-à-vis year 2010. There are various reasons that are being associated with marketers taking the medium more seriously. The basic reason is the nature of the medium. It catches the audience when it is completely dedicated to the medium. Ad films get screened exactly at the position advertisers want them, be it just before the censor rating certificate or right into the interval.
Having paid a price for the experience, the attention of audience remains undiluted. The scale of the medium results in cinema players becoming effective in selling cinema advertising than agencies like Dimples and Salvos. Devang Sampat, Chief Strategy Officer, Cinepolis India adds, “Our clients include HDFC, TATA Docomo, Star TV and Tupperware among the rest and we directly touched base with them.” Further he suggests, “Cinema advertising can now be clubbed with group bookings, displays and some interactive tools.”
Another major reason is that there is a start towards aggregating ‘metrics’ for cinema advertising. This will also enable market research agencies like Nielsen and digital content providers like Real Image to offer advertisers evaluation of effectiveness of cinema advertising.
Because of the medium witnessing a number of on-ground activities, it is being noticed that the number of active advertiser screens are also increasing. Sampat elaborates on the point saying, “Apart from onscreen, advertisers are viewing cinema as a medium to engage with consumers. It starts from the brand’s website, moves to the box-office and later also includes the entry of the hall as the brand’s touchpoint. Brands also place promoters on the exit of the halls so that the feedback on the product can be taken.”
A lot is happening in Tier II and III cities. They are being seen as emerging markets. Every hall receives a footfall of 6 lakh to 9 lakh in a year. Advertisers can no more afford to avoid this chunk of potential consumers.
In 2010, it was foreseen that the trend of customising the marketing and advertising strategies was emerging. The need of treating each film as a separate brand was felt. There was a huge sum allotted to the marketing of films alone. This created more buzz and in turn attracted more audience. The domino effect to this was more advertisers using the medium as a platform for advertising. Take for example Ra.One whose budget was approximately Rs 150 crore in terms of making and Rs 45-50 crore in terms of marketing and publicity. An upcoming trend is also that of brand associations and tie-ups which prove to be a good source of revenue for films.
The growth of Cinema in terms of being a preferred medium for advertisers is funded by national players like Samsung, Hero, L’Oreal and the like and not much by local players. In terms of categories, Bhargava points out that real estate, automobile and infrastructure (cement & steel) were the top three advertising categories comprising almost 70 per cent of the revenues. However, Sampat also brings to light the other side of the story saying, “There are classified packages for local players and depend more on standies. Local jewellers, institutes and garment shops are big spenders in the local circuit.”
Throwing light on the cinema advertising scene down south Tyagi says, “Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are driven by retail markets. Jewellers and institutes are another set of big spenders.”
The cinema scene was sunny and bright in 2011. It, however, remains to be seen what 2012 has in store for the medium.