Cinema Advertising Re-Considered

Michael T. Ewing
Erik du Plessis
Charles Foster

As an advertising medium, cinema has traditionally been favored by local retailers and service providers. However, a number of recent developments have impacted positively on the medium's future position in the mix. First, television advertising, particularly network television, has come under scrutiny (see, for example, Rust and Oliver, 1994), leading advertisers to search for alternative media to complement television. Second, television-style (as opposed to still/slide) cinema commercials have been well received by U.S. audiences in the markets where they have been introduced. Third, a growing list of well-respected, multinational advertisers are including cinema in their media schedules. This has resulted in an exponential growth in worldwide cinema advertising expenditure. Last, renewed interest in 'media synergy,' 'media interaction,' 'mixed media,' and 'multiple media' have led agencies to search for potentially symbiotic interrelationships between media. To date, mixed-media research has focused on print and television (Confer and McGlathery, 1991) and outdoor and television (Whitehill-King and Tinkham, 1989). There is a paucity of empirically grounded literature on cinema advertising. The present study goes some way toward addressing this lack by reviewing the characteristics of the medium, providing empirical evidence on how cinema advertising actually works, and by interpreting this evidence in a manner that will enable practicing managers to use the medium more effectively. The article also serves as a springboard for future researchers, both commercial and academic, to advance the theoretical boundaries in this underresearched domain.