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In September 2001, Hollywood Branding became the first company to create a national movie theater platform for brands. This platform simplified the planning of movie theater promotions on a regional, state-wide, or national scale. Their proprietary database of every movie theater in the U.S. contains over 7,000 individual movie theaters and over 400 movie theater circuits.
Gus: Can you expand on how Hollywood Branding created a new business model that streamlined the process of planning and executing regional and national movie theater promotions for brands?
Beverly: In 1998 I took a job working for AMC movie theaters selling ad space in the pre-show program. Nordstrom was planning their first store in St. Louis. Their media buyer asked me to book ad space at all the movie theaters in St. Louis, however I was only able to offer AMC theaters. The media buyer then had the arduous task of contacting all the other movie theaters and circuits. She shared her frustration with me after calling some theaters only to get either a voice recording of show times or the teenager making the popcorn who knew nothing about the onscreen ad program. That is when I knew someone needed to streamline the process of planning movie theater promotions. I resigned my job and started Hollywood Branding in 2001. I began by building a database of every movie theater in the U.S. When I landed Disney as my first client, I knew my business model was viable.
Gus: Can you provide an example of how you integrate social media with all your promotional campaigns and what that means for your client base?
Beverly: The social media explosion has changed both B2B and B2C marketing forever. It is a powerful tool to influence consumer behavior and seamlessly infiltrate our personal communications with friends and family. It generates word-of-mouth advertising, which research has proven is the most impactful form of marketing. Twitter and Facebook have the greatest reach so they are the foundation of our social media campaigns.
Recently we were monitoring a product placement integration for one of our brand clients at a music video shoot in Los Angeles. From the film set we launched a “TweetFest” by posting comments about the film shoot. People began following the storyline throughout the day as we shared what the band members were doing and what was happening on the set.
We use software to monitor Twitter and soon saw people retweeting and interacting with our posts. In 10 hours we reached 1.1 million people and engaged 1,272 different Twitter followers.
Gus: How do you feel that the film industry has evolved over the last 5 years and how have these changes influenced how you approach your marketing strategy?
Beverly: When people began purchasing HD big screen televisions for their homes, some industry experts predicted the demise of the local movie theater. This trend emerged at the same time studios were asking movie theaters to convert to digital projection. These outside forces motivated theater owners to create an experience that cannot be replicated at home. The new theater technologies such as Big D utilize cinema screens that are 82’ by 35’ and display 34 trillion colors. They are called HD on steroids. Our company is complementing the new movie theater experience by offering VIP amenities for movie-goers. As a form of experiential marketing brands can sponsor a Red Carpet event with VIP gift bags, free food, and the opportunity to meet celebrities, pro athletes, or music artists in the movie lobby.
Gus: What inspired your unique initiative to promote, procure and distribute Spanish language entertainment?
Beverly: In the fall of 2011, ESPN Deportes asked us to create a national movie theater promotion for the Caribbean World’s Series. The commercial they created was Spanish language with no English subtitles. When we contacted two of our vendors who manage pre-show ad programs for large theater circuits, they told us very few theaters run Spanish language commercials. This was shocking because the theaters we requested were in high-density Hispanic neighborhoods.
For the next two weeks we spoke with over 50 different theater owners to better understand the issues with Spanish language programming. Without exception the theaters told us they want Spanish programming and entertainment content but very little is offered to them. We discovered the marketing companies managing the pre-show ad programs were rejecting Spanish language content and not the theater owners. Hispanics index higher than any group for movie-going attendance and ticket sales and yet major players in this industry ignore them. This unfulfilled need inspired us to create a proprietary theater network distributing Spanish language entertainment and live-streaming events popular with Hispanics. We are currently working with Sony Music Latin to launch a national theatrical premiere event in 10 different cities. We will broadcast a music concert filmed at Madison Square Garden earlier this year featuring Romeo Santos, named MTV’s Latino Artist of 2012, P Diddy, Usher, Wisin Y Yandel, Anthony Santos, and Luis Vargas.
Gus: What do you think are some of the biggest challenges you see brands facing today when it comes to advertising?
Beverly: Clutter. Clutter. Clutter. Advertising clutter has reached epic proportions. Before the digital age, consumers were exposed to a limited amount of brand messaging through print, radio, TV, or static outdoor signage. Today that same consumer is bombarded with over 3,000 advertising messages per day, according to the Platt Retail Institute.
The consumer research study at Platt Retail Institute also found that brand attitude is an important factor tied to a consumer’s motivation to purchase. Clutter affects attitudes by increasing the perceptions of intrusiveness. High levels of advertising are also likely to interrupt the consumer’s cognitive process and subsequently lead to feelings of irritation.
High levels of clutter can also be perceived as invasive. A common response to invasive advertising is frustration, which may lead a consumer to avoid the ad altogether. The human brain adapts to this onslaught of messaging by automatically filtering out advertising. It is an involuntary subconscious process that actual rewires neural connections in the brain.
For all these reasons and more, product placement offers brands the opportunity to be nested within entertainment content providing an uncluttered environment that is most impactful on consumer behavior.
Gus: Can you talk a bit about your new B2C division, Entertainment Nation and what services you’ll be adding for your clients?
Beverly: One of the latest trends related to movie theaters is live-streaming or broadcasting alternative content such as music concerts and sporting events. Rather than someone buying a high-priced ticket for front row seats at a music concert, they can head over to their local movie theater and have a front-row seat experience for a fraction of the cost. Entertainment Nation is capitalizing on that trend by procuring high value entertainment content and live-streaming events for theatrical distribution. We also create a VIP fan experience in conjunction with the broadcast which can include meeting celebrities, professional athletes, or musicians on-site at the theater. We elevate movie-goers to a celebrity status complete with red carpet and a step and repeat.
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