The Coast News Group
If I wanted to see commercials with my movie, I’d have stayed home.  Stock photo
Ask Mr. MarketingColumns

Wake me when the movie starts

To be successful, any business must deliver more than it promises, charge reasonable prices and not antagonize customers.

Basic, right? Only movie chains seem more interested in being inflation’s leading indicator.

This disconnect struck me when my bride and I paid $50 for admission and snacks to catch a flick that’ll undoubtedly be on Amazon Prime by July.

Laden with overpriced popcorn, we risked injury amidst an obstacle course of three-dimensional coming attractions displays. Settling into our seats, we were subjected to 25 commercials, six coming attractions, reminders to buy more snacks and an admonishment to silence our phones.

Movie marketing isn’t new. Coming Next posters entice you in, snack bars offer “deals” and product placements subliminally shout, “Buy this!” Local businesses sponsor trivia contests, occupying viewers until showtime.

And I don’t object to the coming attractions or the request for silence. My complaint is the 35 minutes of self-promotional noise.

Because if I wanted to see commercials with my movie, I’d have stayed home.

Today there’s feverish competition for every consumer dollar. A billion websites, hundreds of cable channels, Netflix and the rest are battling for theater audiences’ attention.

Businesses facing such intense competition must provide value-added reasons for customers to patronize them.

Luring customers is what spurred theaters during the Great Depression to give away dishes. That’s why my grandparents regularly attended the movies — to complete their set of plates.

But annoying a captive audience with paid advertising is more likely to eliminate any good feelings the occasion might otherwise generate.

And it makes me wonder if, with so many “premium” channels and upgraded services, customers would voluntarily pay more to avoid being sold to in what’s supposed to be a relaxing atmosphere.

Before foisting yet more advertising on us, theaters should consider offering customers a premium “we’ll call” service, providing notice when the actual movie will start and short-circuiting the ads.

After all, lots of customers already come late to accomplish this objective. Theater owners might as well capitalize on it.

And advertisers will still reach those uninterested in this service…just as they do with subscribers to countless streaming services who’d rather listen to ads than pay to avoid them.

There’s an opportunity here to give folks what they want. Theaters should consider filling that gap.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

Share your thoughts at

Leave a Comment