Stepping up to the plate: the opportunity for brands to save a valuable part of Sydney’s media infastructure

Academy_twin running out of time, Paddington's Academy Twin theatre is under threat of closure, image courtesy Sydney Film School

the rise of the multiplex may have brought convenience to the cinema experience but it has done so at quite a cost; both in terms of the price to attend a cinema, but more importantly in the ability to see non-mainstream releases.  small independent cinema allows you to explore the long tail of movie making, to take a break from the populist output of mainstream studios and enjoy movies that challenge, provoke and stimulate.

and so its hard to see as anything but tragic the news today that the Academy Twin Cinema in
Paddington is to close after very nearly one hundred years.  there's full and comprehensive commentary of the announcement by Palace Cinemas courtesy of a post on Scott Henderson's Dark Habits blog.  the Sydney Morning Herald article can be viewed here.

but I can't help but think, and suggest, that there's a significant opportunity here.  brand after brand invests in cinema to reach and engage with audiences.  they do so because they view that audience as valuable – be it attitudinally, behaviourally or (though I don't like saying it) demographically – to their brand and marketing efforts.

take for example alcohol brands.  in 2009 – according to Nielsen – the alcohol category spent over $10m on cinema advertising in Australia, over 10% of total media spend in the category.  individual brands have made significant commitments to the channel; Chivas Regal invested $654k in cinema in 2009, Russian Standard vodka invested $344k and Smirnoff $250k.  in all cases the investment represented over 30% of each brands' total media spend – a significant commitment.

whilst the media landscape is evolving sometimes beyond recognition, the fundamental trilogy of components in many ways remains unchanged – the brand, the audience and the media space.  the tools and tactics may change but these pillars don't.  our trade and our skill is in advising brands where and how to invest to reach an audience.

and herein lies the opportunity.  is there a brand out there that wants to invest in a media space not just to reach an audience, but to save that very media space from extinction?  is there a brand in Australia with a commitment to cinema that goes as far as bringing a loved and cherished venue back from the brink.

the (not comprehensive) argument against.  (1) it represents a huge investment in a relatively small audience (2) it's a long-term commitment to a space that a marketing manager may want to move away from as marketing strategies change (3) its geographically limiting

the (not comprehensive) argument for. (1) it demonstrates an overcommitment to a valuable audience (2) it brings consistency to a marketing schedule (3) the potential PR value is huge

besides there's precedent…  O2 in the UK has made an unequivocal commitment to music by redeveloping the Millennium Dome into the O2, and similarly rebranding the music Academies.  the economic case for investing in a media space for the medium to long term must be able to be made.

so here's the call…  who wants to save a bit of media?  could any marketing managers or planners or strategists who think that a brand on which they work could help, please come forward…  your time has come…  and its running out.

2 responses to “Stepping up to the plate: the opportunity for brands to save a valuable part of Sydney’s media infastructure

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