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Why movie theater advertising could lead to a consumer revolt

» Posted by on Apr 30, 2012

  Movie theater ads

I’m all for marketing and advertising messages. I’m all for figuring out best ways to get a message to consumers.

This weekend I went to the movies to see “Mirror, Mirror” with my 9-year-old daughter. It was our date night. We went to dinner before-hand and then to the cinema.

I bought the tickets: $10 for mine and $7.50 for her’s.

We bought a large soda for $5.50 which we shared. And we proceeded to take our seats.

Unlike years ago when you’d be bombarded with previews of movies and maybe some trivia screens, we were “treated” to commercials. This is nothing new. I’ve seen them before.

But full disclosure: I usually rent movies. I rarely go.

This concept of commercials inside the theater has bugged me for a long time. But this time, it bothered me more than usual.

Maybe because my daughter was with me. I feel like we had bought our way to some peace and quiet.

But instead I got pounded by commercials.

So wrong!

According to the “Los Angeles Times,” spending on ads in movie theaters jumped 13% in 2010. Advertisers spend $658.3 million, according to numbers from the Cinema Advertising Council.

Remember, these are the ads that appear on screen before the movie that you just paid big bucks to watch.

John Campea from believes that commercials before movies are worse than piracy.

“Most of that money comes from the ads I LOATHE,” says Campea. “[But] the commercials… that start playing at the time they advertised the MOVIE was supposed to start [I hate most],” Campea says on the website.

I am inclined to agree with him on that.

Though he is not, I am bothered by the fact that the movie theater took my money, gets my undivided attention and then feels like it’s okay to sell advertising and market products to me.

Perhaps they should offer a discounted ticket if that were the case and have some showings with ads; others without any ads. And if you don’t mind ads you can save a few bucks on the ticket. Now that would be super!

But short of that, as far as I’m concerned the movie theater be a “no ad zone.” Previews are okay in my book because it’s a preview to other upcoming movies–it’s related.

But what do ads from Cartoon Network, Coke, Intel and Target have to do with me watching a movie?

I’m not sure why consumers tolerate it. It makes me feel like my personal space is being invaded and like these theaters don’t value my time.

I show up and feel like a sitting duck. Where am I going to go?

The movie theater is not alone. Have you been to a hockey game? Advertising is EVERYWHERE.

But that doesn’t bother me as much because no single screen captures your undivided attention.

I tolerate ads on TV because it means I get to watch TV shows for free.

When will the public tire of this?

When they do there may be a consumer revolt.

I don’t blame the advertisers. I blame the movie theaters. But I don’t feel better about those companies that spent money to run ads to sitting ducks like me. But it doesn’t make me feel better about them either.

As it turns out I am in good company. Others feel the same.

The Captive Motion Picture Audience of America (CMPAA) launched a campaign against this. Who knew?

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Glenn Selig founded The Publicity Agency in 2007 and has represented some of the biggest newsmakers and most influential business leaders and companies nationwide. He is a frequent guest on MSNBC, Fox News Channel and on CNN. Reporters call him for an expert PR opinion on high profile cases to offer perspective. He also appears on air to publicly defend his clients. View the PR firm website and follow him on Twitter @GlennSelig