How Does Cinema Advertising Compare With TV Advertising?

Whilst both are visual electronic advertising mediums, they don’t really compare – not in terms of reach anyway.

Whereas Television advertising is mass media, reaching millions, cinema advertising is more niched and its reach is limited.

That said, cinema advertising has a lot going for it, and as an ad agency, I’ll often look at incorporating it into a media schedule where there is a product/target audience fit. It’s clear that the advertising medium appeals to many marketers, judging from the number and types of advertisers currently flighting ads on cinema screens around the nation. Advertisers include the large national advertisers as well as small advertisers and hence, its appeal spans the divide.

In my opinion, the strengths of cinema as an advertising medium are the fact that it allows for:


It’s also cost-effective and affordable, and comes in far cheaper than TV advertising which, is by and large, expensive.

Television advertising is a national medium, reaching millions of people whereas cinema advertising lends itself more to geographical targeting.

Irrespective of the product being advertised, TV advertising will always have “wastage” – where a percentage of people will not, and will likely never be, interested in your product or service. Whilst this is the case, though, people talk. So whilst someone will have no interest in your product, he or she may know someone who may be – and may well choose to tell that person. The importance of “Word of mouth” can never be underestimated in terms of advertising. People will always be more open to making a purchase if a friend or family member has made a recommendation.

Whilst this is true of both TV advertising and cinema advertising, cinema advertising has less wastage as advertisers can better target their advertising. In terms of targeting, an advertiser with a limited advertising budget could decide which cinemas to advertise in and which not to advertise in. So if, for example, you run a plumbing supplies business in Boksburg, you could advertise in cinemas in only the Boksburg area. Or you could choose a number of cinemas in adjoining areas so as to reach a wider audience. This is a huge advantage as it means that you won’t be advertising in places where your target market is too geographically distant to take advantage of your products or service, and you won’t be wasting money unnecessarily.

Besides deciding on cinema location, the cinema advertiser could also select particular cinema releases. This is important. As Ster-Kinekor and Nu Metro will always make a big splash about forthcoming releases they consider to be “blockbusters”, you’ll have the time to plan your campaign. By booking your ad in the cinemas of your choice, and before a movie that you know will be well attended, you’ll be in a good place.

Ster-Kinekor or Nu Metro will promote the movie with a view to getting bums on seats, and so long as you have an ad that “talks” to those there for the movie, you’ll be positioned to capitalise. You must have a decent commercial to flight though.

There are a number of really good advertising agencies in South Africa as well as a number of really good TV producers who could produce a quality cinema ad for you, and the costs do not have to exorbitant. Whilst a quality TV commercial could set you back R650 000 (and upwards), a cinema ad could be produced for a lot less – depending on the concept, storyboard, location and number of actors.

Unless you’re an established marketer with an unlimited budget for production, there are a number of ways to keep your cinema ad production costs down:

Have it produced in-house (there are a number of talented people about who could help you with this)
Call in a freelance TV producer
Get in a good freelance copywriter and art director (a Google search will likely bring up a few)
Insist on a simple storyboard (requiring no actors, or maybe one at the most)
Consider simple animation or pack shots with titles
Source library music (and avoid well-known soundtracks)

Do your homework and you could probably get a decent cinema ad shot for R150 000 to R180 000 excluding VAT.

Once you have a cinema commercial produced, you’ll need to have a media planner compile you a media schedule which will show you when, where and how many times your commercial will air or flight. If you have an ad agency, they’ll be able to put this together for you. (If you don’t, I could put you in contact with someone).

Advertising on the big screen ticks a number of boxes in my opinion – although it’s product-dependant ie a chocolate bar or new energy drink would lend itself to being advertised on cinema whereas a new brand of cement might not be.

If your target market is children, parents of children, or people aged 34 or less, advertising in cinema is worthy of consideration. Especially when you consider that you have a captive audience that will be receptive to your message – and focused on your message. (Something that can’t be guaranteed with TV advertising).

Also in cinema advertising’s favour is that, as an advertiser, you could bolster your advertising on-screen by, for example, give-aways, leaflets or other promotional items in cinema foyers. (It’s difficult to do this with TV advertising).

At the end of the day, cinema advertising and TV advertising are both excellent advertising mediums, with the former probably more suited to smaller companies with smaller advertising budgets looking for local penetration and television advertising more suited to companies with larger advertising budgets, looking for a national reach.

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