Recently, when Whirlpool India released a 3D commercial for its new Proton series of refrigerators, it created a stir. Not only was it the first 3D ad in India, but, more significantly, it was specially targeted at cinema audiences. Whirlpool, in fact, has a different television ad for the same brand.
Earlier, in end-2007, Interactive Television, a stand-alone entertainment marketing company that claims almost 40 per cent of the cinema advertising market, was snapped up by GroupM, the WPP-owned media behemoth. Joining the dots: It demonstrates the growing clout of cinema advertising—for long given the short shrift by India Inc.
Indeed, all the top brands are today present in cinema halls, thanks to the expanding presence of multiplexes across urban India. And in the race to grab the piece of cinema spends are various multiplex chains. Their USP: A captive audience of upwardly mobile middle class with spending power. They also offer a creative interplay of sound effects and visuals that can be unique to the big screen. The change in technology— where movies are released digitally—has also added to the appeal of cinema ads for advertisers.
"The biggest barrier to growth in the past was that advertisers were unable to track and monitor ads. But that is changing because of the digital release of films today. Now it is possible for advertisers to know that even a theatre in a small town has actually relayed the ad or not," says Ajay Mehta, MD, Interactive Television.
Advertising already is a critical source of revenue for multiplexes today. In the last three years, its contribution to the revenue basket of the cinema industry has almost doubled. It added up to Rs 150 crore in 2009-10, or 10 per cent of revenues. (See chart).
Gautam Dutta, CEO, Cinemedia, PVR, insists it's a winwin for everyone. "Marketers can choose the kind of exposure they want, the region where they want it and the time frame. We give them fool-proof guarantees on this front," he says. Cinema advertising is, it seems, then coming into its own as a medium.