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Vox pop: Putting bums on seats

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In the age of on-demand digital entertainment, how can marketers convince people to leave their homes and enjoy real-world entertainment experiences?

Kris Boorman, digital marketing executive, Sagittarius

Netflix succeeded because it offered a better service than piracy. It proved people are willing to pay for a better experience than a free one. If cinemas, live entertainment and event spots are to compete they need to facilitate a better experience, rather than convince people to come to events as they are. We’ve seen what happens to businesses like Blockbuster that fail to adapt. I’ve seen some small venues take bold steps to shake things up, but I think it’s going to take a big brand doing something controversial to drive change.

Kid-free nights, perhaps?

Allyson Griffiths, digital strategy director, iCrossing

Well that’s exactly it – you have to offer consumers an experience worth going out for!

Take Secret Cinema – the immersive theatrical film company, celebrating its 10th year in business by knocking it out of the park with the latest offering of the 1982 Blade Runner film. Or high street brands like Adidas, opening unbranded fitness studios for their fans. Entertainment tailored to their consumers based on lifestyle, trends and needs. These companies know their audience, and who influences them so well, that they’re able to build experiences that encourage both brand loyalty and further word of mouth.

As the meaning of brand continues to expand, the value-add you offer to your consumers’ lifestyle is an ever important part of their perception of you and your competitive advantage. Entertainment via experience, and how this is delivered specifically to your audience, will become an even more important part of a modern brand’s marketing mix.

Dan Deeks-Osburn, strategy director, Impero

I believe in consumer centric brands – brands that put consumers wants, needs, desires, before their own. From the consumer perspective, we’re living in an absolute golden age of entertainment – frictionless access to exactly what you want, when you want it.

If you’re a content creator, you can get in front of more people than ever. Take it to the consumer centric extreme. If you’re in digital distribution, you need to save yourself and get over geo-locked rights. And if you’re in physical distribution (cinemas), you’re pretty much screwed – sorry! Unless you find a way to make going to the cinema more appealing than watching movies from the comfort of your own home.

Live venues are super interesting because artists and venues collaborate to create amazing experiences for consumers. One of our clients, The O2 Arena, has a laser focus on the delivering the best possible experiences and for this reason people regularly flock to their venue. The key to this is great talent, putting on a great show, and easy access to the experience, so people can engage and enjoy. If businesses can’t provide these experiences, they need to get out of the way!

Charlie Hughes, senior account manager, Underscore

On-demand is all about having access to absolutely everything at the touch of a button and without having to take off your pyjama bottoms. In order to prise people away from this snuggly world, brands and marketeers need to create experiences that you can’t gain access to every day. Activations need to feel personalised, bespoke and VIP. Most importantly, consumers want to be able to share these unique and envy-inducing experiences with their friends and peers across their social networks.

Paris Brosnan-Green, head of events, Lick Creative

It’s really about changing the experience all together. We need to immerse people in a world that removes them from the routine of life.

The ‘live cinema’ model is a perfect example. These events allow people to experience movies in a completely unique and exclusive way, whether its movie sing-a-longs, live orchestras performing movie scores or as immersive as ‘Secret Cinema’. It’s about creating an unforgettable experience that leaves people wanting more and more!

People commit to being entertained and we need to continue to find new, and innovative, ways to engage and immerse people through the world of experiences and events.

Paul Vallois, managing director, Nimbletank

While on-demand and the rise of voice makes arm-chair entertainment ever more convenient and consumable, the Experience Economy, first coined in 1998 is alive and well, 20 years on.

That said, to pry people away from the latest Netflix boxset, marketers and brands have to try a little harder. The onus is on them to create an experience that is immersive, personal and multi-sensory, often blurring the lines between physical and digital. An element of scarcity also adds kudos and lights up an Instagram feed. Secret Cinema, Amex Summer Series and London Lumiere are a few examples of those getting it right.

Kieran Bass, managing partner, Kitty

Instead of adhering to pre-determined schedules, put the user in control, giving them a sense a freedom that no generation before them has experienced before. This new-found freedom and control can also be found in their desire to go out and experience events as and when they want, documenting them socially or catching up on their favourite shows when they get back in.

As always, success comes down to creating an event that brings the experience to life, errs on the line of unexpected and unusual; ultimately attracting attention, just as the likes of Secret Cinema has done, perfectly.

Oliver Bingham, consultant, The Clearing

Is on-demand the enemy here? The benefits of being able to ‘plug into’ content are well known, but it shouldn’t be a substitute for the satisfaction of getting out there and experiencing something real for ourselves. Instead, it should encourage us to see the value in physical experiences even more, and enable us to get out there whenever we fancy. I see it as an opportunity more than a threat. The question is: how should brands go about proving that?

When I see new sub-brands like Odeon Luxe,I question if that’s the most sensible approach. Sure, they’re comfy seats, but what’s more comfortable than your own home? The key for marketers is to not solely compete on the same benefit, but to deliver original, authentic experiences that are impossible to replicate at home. Aim to make them worth getting changed out of your onesie for, at a minimum.

Karen Forbes, senior director of strategy and business development, Think Jam

A successful theatrical marketing strategy seeks to not only engage, but also motivate audiences into buying cinema tickets. Two areas for marketers to consider are 1) building hype and 2) identifying a way to physically immerse the audience in the film.

Marketing content needs to create hype around a film’s opening; driving in-cinema viewing vs waiting until home rent release. Sharp AV cuts (in a format native to the environment they’re living in), bold copy, utilising tactical placements and moments, use of innovations/influencers where relevant - persuade and excite the viewer. The key? Know where your audience is. Be agile. Optimise.

Additionally, experiential or location-based activations allow people to feel film, going beyond standard media. Recent successful examples include the Isle of Dogs exhibition, Tomb Raider’s Escape Room and the hyper-reality of the Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire experience withThe VOID. The key? A quality experience, hitting the right audience, which considers budget versus return!

This article originally appeared in The Drum Network Entertainment special