For brands looking to stage events for consumers or employees the answer may be as close as their neighborhood movie theater. During off-hours those cushy seats and cup-holders are just sitting there empty; the big dark screen is just begging to light up with a movie or simulcast. Add in the efficiencies of reaching potentially thousands of people via a network of theater locations and you’ve got an opportunity that may just be worth exploring especially in this age of global warming and carbon offsets. That’s just what Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Cisco the Sci Fi Channel and Microsoft found when they reached thousands of people with programs in movie theaters earlier this year.
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage a division of Wells Fargo Bank in April reached thousands of real estate professionals in 29 markets via a live simulcast held in 50 multiplex movie theaters. The simulcast launched the company’s 2008 outreach to consumers and focused on first-time home buyers low- to moderate-income and multicultural consumers with key messages about the housing market and challenges consumers are experiencing.
The program offered Wells Fargo what it was looking for—a way to put real estate professionals face-to-face with Wells Fargo sales people. The two-hour program began with 30 minutes of interesting factoids stats and a video from the FHA on the screen followed by an hour-long live simulcast. It wrapped up with local area managers who took to the stage for 30 minutes to discuss the local market.
“This technology allowed us to take our message across the country and not just have it experienced in one venue ” says Edie De Phillips vp of meetings and convention planning at Wells Fargo (National CineMedia handled).
Cisco likewise turned to the big screen to reach IT professionals with a Business of Security event created to educate partners and resellers about PCI compliance a regulatory issue that has been mandated by the government to the Payment Card Industry about safeguarding credit card numbers. Cisco filmed and scripted a movie about the travails of a company as it navigates these issues. The movie was simulcast to more than 1 000 attendees in theaters in 19 cities over a series of three sessions from last December through June.
Each theater event began with an hour-long registration breakfast and meet-and-greet that preceded the hour-long movie and ended with a networking session afterwards. Following each event Sudden Impact Marketing Columbus OH followed up with lead generation in each city.
“The PCI Movie Theater Series Event was informational and a sales opportunity for Cisco and our partner community ” says Luanne Tierney vp-worldwide channel marketing at Cisco. “The beauty of it was that its uniqueness helped us reach a broader audience in a non-threatening format about a serious topic regarding compliance issues.”
The big screen can also build buzz among consumers as Sci Fi Channel and Microsoft discovered last fall when they partnered in an effort that brought special advance preview screenings of a two-hour prequel movie called “Battlestar Galactica: Razor” to select theaters nearly two weeks before it aired on TV. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 looking for an impactful product launch for its new game title Mass Effect bought the tickets and staged the event as a free preview screening. Microsoft’s Zune division placed high-definition ads within the movie itself.
“Microsoft gave this unbelievable experience to the fans but it also had them as a captive audience ” said Bob Martin former vp-group communications director at Universal McCann which handled the event (booked through National CineMedia). “The only advertising that was shown was extended content from the Mass Effect game from Xbox and Zune.” The movie ran with limited commercial interruption; the only ads that were seen were high-def content pieces for the sponsors including Sci Fi which ran a full-length trailer for a fourth-quarter miniseries.
Screenings took place on Nov. 12 in 28 theaters in eight markets. Fans registered for tickets through a specially created battlestarevent.com website and capacity more than 18 000 seats was reached in less than a week with major markets almost selling out within the first day eliminating the need for print and on-air advertising. A Seattle theater served as a VIP site with special appearances by cast members and the distribution of Microsoft gift bags.
“Our hope was to build so much excitement around the movie that they would want to watch again on the channel ” says Dana Ortiz director of advertising and promotions at Sci Fi. “With Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound they actually got the best of this particular episode. A show like ‘Battlestar Galactica’ translates from the small screen to the large screen and is best viewed in cinematic form.”
The popcorn was pretty good too.