Why can’t cinema ads be better than the film?

Zoe Jones, marketing director at cinema advertising company Digital Cinema Media, picks up the thoughts of TBWA/UK's boss Peter Souter and the potential that cinema advertising holds, when he spoke at its event in London focusing on what is still to come from cinema.

This week (25 November), Digital Cinema Media (DCM) hosted its inaugural Upfronts event, bringing together industry leaders to discuss the future of cinema, the power of storytelling on the big screen and new ad opportunities to target the diverse cinemagoing audience.

Peter Souter, Chairman and chief creative officer for TBWA\UK Group, was a provocative keynote speaker, offering his thoughts on why advertising needs to hold itself to higher standards.

According to Peter: “A piece of cinema advertising should be no different to what follows it, in fact, our aim should be to try and make something better than the film, something better than anything that has gone before.”

Aspiring to greatness would help address the waste that takes place in the industry. Peter claimed that a shocking 90% of total advertising in the UK is not recalled by the public, and only 3 per cent is recalled positively. Peter continued: “In television advertising the ads also need to be more dramatic than the news, and on the internet you have to make your content more entertaining than porn!”

Telling entertaining stories is of paramount importance in engaging people and, as Peter explained, we all prefer to share emotional experiences, which is why cinema works so well as a medium.

David Mamet’s line: “There is no drama without conflict,” is one of Peter’s mantras which he expanded upon by explaining the essential components of storytelling: Set up, expand, twist and resolve.

Hearing Peter talk through classic ads that encapsulated the art of great writing was really inspiring. The Guinness ‘Surfers’ ad for example took the perceived flaw of waiting for a pint to be poured and turned it into the desire and anticipation of waiting, with the immortal line: “Good things come to those who wait.”

Waiting for anything now in an age where we can listen, watch or buy what we want, when we want is increasingly intolerable to today’s consumer. As Peter explained: “We need to give people a reason to be interested in brands.”

For cinema, Peter concluded that successful campaigns should capitalise on the power of the shared emotional experience.

The challenge and opportunity for our industry is to continue to invest in this experience to match and enhance the content and therefore ensure cinema’s resilience and enduring appeal continues long after the credits roll...

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