Church of the Customer Blog« Putting a stop to pre-movie ads | Main | If you have the believers... »
January 27, 2005
Putting a stop to pre-movie ads
An open letter to:
Mr. Peter C. Brown, Chairman, President & CEO, AMC Entertainment Inc.
Ms. Michael Campbell, Co-Chairman & Co-CEO, Regal Entertainment Group
Mr. Lee Roy Mitchell, President & CEO, Cinemark Inc.
Mr. Michael W. Patrick, President, Chairman & CEO, Carmike Cinemas Inc.
Mr. Travis Reid, President & CEO, Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corporation
We, the marketing-saturated American movie-going public, respectfully ask you to stop showing ads before movies. To be clear, we mean the commercials, not the movie previews.
Why are we asking? We pay you an admittance fee to be entertained. To escape. That's why, for years and years, we spent many dollars at your movie theaters every month. Often, every week. Movie nights with friends meant we regularly brought customers to you.
But now you disrespect us. You prostitute us, your paying customers, with commercial ads before movies. If the companies advertising in your theaters could advertise in churches, they probably would. There's no opt-out to the ads we're paying you to watch. We're a captive audience. Aren't you so clever.
Enduring 10 minutes of gigantic, disruptive and head-shaking ads for cars, deodorant, soda, video games and other stuff we'd rather not buy is not why we pay a sitter, hail a taxi, and spend $15 at the concession stand for movie treats to trudge across your soda-sticky floors while putting up with the guy on the cellphone who's chatting about nothing in particular.
A movie theater used to be a sanctuary for the movie experience, not a giant TV screen. Do you attend movies in your own theaters? Do you realize what they've become? Your sanctuary is now just another bathroom stall of your smelly disregard for customers.
So, we give up on you. We already did for much of 2004. Your prostitution ring of advertising was the last straw. If a theater promises an ad-free movie experience, we'll reconsider.
Now, about those paid product placements in the movies...
Your former customers
P.S. We are asking all of our friends who feel the same to send a letter, asking you to stop pre-movie ads by clicking here.
Other blogs that reference Putting a stop to pre-movie ads:
» Movie Goers Revolt from smallbusinessbranding blog - small business marketing
Lawmakers in the great state of Connecticut (where I live) want to crack down on movie theaters. Consequently this post got my attention. Rock on you revolutionary Smart Blogging Babe. [Read More]
» Movie Theater Advertisements: Infringing on Your Rights? from ktoddstorch @ business thoughts
I love going to the movies. [Read More]
» Why Traditional Marketing is Dead from smallbusinessbranding blog - small business marketing
Download, and print the PDF version here. Before we celebrate the death of traditional marketing, lets set the stage for its timely and fortunate demise. The long-awaited Iraqi election is over, and I wonder how many people realize the significance [Read More]
» Before our "pay-per-view" presentation, here’s a from CustomerServiceQuality.com
Jackie Huba has a passionate post in her blog about commercials shown before a movie starts… not on TV, but in theaters. And no TiVo remote will make you skip those!... [Read More]
Alternately... Do an exit survey of moviegoers... Ask each willing participant if they've actually ever visited the restaurant mentioned in the pre-movie slide projection.
If they receive at least a 1% response rate of "yes, I have visited a restaurant featured in the slide projection as a result of the slide projection," I say keep them - the ads are working.
Good post ..I luv it !!
Yo- why do I pay for em ad's when Ihave already paid for a movie eh ??
Geeeeee.. I sent in my request and i'll be forward the link to all my friends !!
Peter, check out http://www.didntialreadypayforthismovie.com/
Nice idea but I abandoned the letter submittal form. Why? They require my personal information with no explanation of what they intend to do with it. Why require my snail mail address?
Good idea - bad execution.
Get rid of the ads and then pay $1.00 more per ticket, per movie! Brilliant!
Or how bout they put a little effort into this. At movies, we're a captive targeted audience, why not show us ads made for the theater that are related to the movie we're seeing? Showing us a Clairol commercial before an action film is just demeaning.
I experienced a new low in pre-show advertising just yesterday. They showed a preview of "Racing Stripes" in the guise of a "behind-the-scenes" plug during the ads section and before the previews! Now, we have the pre-previews! Oy.
I love the passion of the post and the comments, but I disagree. Why shouldn't they be allowed to advertise to us?
What contract did we enter into by purchasing the ticket? If anything, they should put the real "start time" on the movie ticket.
In fact, someone has already sued for that.
There are plenty of ads I don't want to see, but maybe I'm just glad to be out with my wife and away from the kids for a few hours, so my guard is down.
I have a hard time making up my mind on this. On one hand, sure, I've already paid - I don't want ads there. On the other hand, with the costs of movie production and actor's salaries, would I rather have ads or an extra $5 or $10 tacked on the ticket price? I'll take the ads.
That's assuming, of course, that that's the real reason the ads are there.
But like all ads (and many other things), it's all presentation and context. I don't mind GOOD ads, relevant ads. Seeing ads for local businesses that are relevant to movies, or ads about a DVD related to the movie I'm watching ("you're here to see Bourne Supremacy, and we've just released Bourne Identity Special Edition")
Personally, I kinda like seeing good ads and trivia and other time killers while I'm sitting waiting for my movie to start. I'd sign a petition to request GOOD ads!
I don't see it as a contract issue -- there is none, as K. Todd correctly notes.
But hasn't it been an implicit contract since movies began? Oh sure, there's the bad slideshow ads for nearby salons and bars that methodically drone on before the projector fires up. But what would happen if HBO or Showtime included ads for GM trucks or Burger King between shows?
I can't imagine it killing either service, but it probably would mark the beginning of their decline. Besides, why poke thousands of customers with a stick?
Jake, it's not the trivia and still ads that play while we are waiting for the movie to start that I am opposed to. It's the TV-like commercials that play at the advertised movie start time. Often, I've sat through 9 or 10 such commercials before a movie, about 15 minutes worth.
The money paid by the advertisers to the theater chains does not go to the movie production company to cover costs and actors' salaries. It goes right directly into the theater chains' pockets. It's greed, pure and simple.
And customers are tired of it.
According to a recent survey by InsightExpress, more than half of moviegoers (53%) say cinemas should stop this practice.
More than a quarter (27%) of consumers say the showing of commercials at the movies will lead them to decrease the number of trips they take to the theater.
And it's getting worse. A class action law suit has been filed again Lowes (http://www.nomovieads.com) and in Connecticut, a state lawmaker is proposing legislation that would require movie theaters to post the actual start time of movies.
Why is it bad that the movie chains put money to the bottomline? I haven't done a P&L review of the movie chain's financials, but how much do they really make from each ticket price?
I do understand that you are making a statement that "you don't like it", but saying things like "It's greed, pure and simple" sounds like you have a problem that they are creating a new revenue stream.
1 and 4 movie goers don't go see new movies because of the commercials? Wow, I hope they are all home reading books, or working on their blogs...
The stat says that it "will lead them to" a decrease, not that it HAS lead them to a decrease. Big difference.
Again, I think its just a personal preference and I'm just happy to experience some hand holding, entertainment time with my wife away from the kids.
Theater owners typically take 30% of box office in a movie's opening week, pursuant to a contractual formula between theaters owners and distributors. By the sixth week, the ratio is reversed, with theaters keeping 70%.
That said, I'm not against theaters making money. But does it make financial sense to drive away customers?
Theater attendance was down 4.3 percent in 2003 and fell another 1.7 percent in 2004. Revenues from the offending commercials only accounted for 3.5% of box office revenue in 2003, according to Screen Digest.
If over 50% of your customers would prefer you stop an annoying practice, and 25% of customers said they would buy from you less if you didn't stop that practice, and the trends show you are losing customers, then why would you continue to piss them off?
I think the theater chains are taking the easy money from advertisers when smart companies would try to figure out how to get more movie-going butts in seats by creating a better movie watching experience. It's short-term greedy thinking vs. long-term strategic thinking.
Great # analysis! Your last paragraph sums it up for me after all of the comments and discussion.
Do we really think they (or the majority of companies) are truly thinking long-term?
How many of the theater chains you mentioned in your original post are public companies?
Short term greed drives quarterly results...
Jackie, keep up the great work.
Great Post Jackie!
Another form of advertising in movie theaters is product placement. It doesn't bring a movie closer to the "real" world. First thing that comes into my mind when I see a branded product in a movie or TV show is "Nah! Some company paid for that to be in there!"
Why don’t we see a character drinking Pepsi talking to another one drinking Coke? ;^)
someone needs to stop the insidious DVD scam - some studios disable the main menu button before the movie starts, FORCING you to watch lame previews. i say leave the previews on the disc, but don't you dare force me to sit through them. it seems as if only some studios are doing this, but i get the feeling more will do the same sooner than later.
One can write all the letters of complaint one wants as has been done time and again. The problem here is that they are not beholden to the best interests of their customers(obviously).
They are beholden to the bottom line. Shareholders or profit for their private holders. Movie theatre operators have been suffering from diminishing returns for many years without any truly revolutionary new ideas or formats. Putting a stop to ads before movies requires the mass voting of feet. Ad revenue flows whether or not people(customers) are happy or not.
Write the letters but that doesn't cost them or hurt them were it matters. You want change? Mobilize people to stay home. Don't give them your $10 and let them know you will return when they give you real reasons to return. (Drop the ads, enhance the experience, get real about concession prices, etc.) Enough people doing this and they will have no choice. Change or die.
Pick a date, mobilize the netizens, vote with your feet.
Nice idea. Can you put the CEO of Century Cinema, which owns most of the screens here in Marin County and lots in the Bay Area, on the send list?
An open letter to magazine publishers. I pay you a subscription fee. Please NO MORE ADS.
An open letter to Comcast Cable TV. I pay a monthly fee. NO MORE COMMERCIALS.
An open letter to Metro. I pay to ride the bus. NO MORE ADS.
With all due respect, I see the movie theater as a legitimate medium for advertising. I would only ask that the theater chains demand high creative excellence of their advertisers so that the messages are as good as the movies. Super Bowl ads are the model to shoot for. These are so good that I spent an hour of family time watching a TV show last night that consisted of just the ads that run on Super Bowls compared to some of the best ads running outside the US. For some audience segments such as teen boys the movies are one of the only way to communicate with them. If the ads shown are contextually relevant to the movie genre being shown that night, so much the better. So here's a vote for well done, creatively stimulating commercials in all venues.
Come on - you've got to give attention-starved ad agency creatives somewhere to show off their work! Those ads don't look as good on TV and looking good is mostly what those ads do. So for history's sake - before ad agencies cotton on to direct and viral marketing - give those poor misunderstood creatives a chance, will ya? ;)
i actually enjoyed your intro and exit music- please mail me with title and artist if you can. Also i hope to practice and share ideas with you as I HAVE A SMALL BUT SUCCESSFUL COMPANY THAT IS 7 YEARS OLD AND WE DO NO ADVERTISING SAVE WOM OR GREAT REPEAT EVANGELICALS.
Unfortunately, money talks. In just six months, Cinemark has made between $6M-$8M for showing ads on the big screen. If you want the ads to stop, you'll have to complain to the individual products marketing representatives. Cinemark is just like me and you... they're NEVER going to turn down money. If you don't like it, do what I do-- Rent DVD's, and save your hard-earned cash for a killer Home Theatre System.