Cineplex’s ‘Love Letter’ to the movies

Who: Cineplex, with Zulu Alpha Kilo for strategy and creative, with its in-house content creation arm Zulubot for production (directed by James Arthurs). Post-production by The Vanity, Toast & Jam, and 6 Degrees Music and Sound.

What: “Where Escape Begins,” a new brand platform for the theatre chain that reminds Canadians of the magic of the moviegoing experience.

When & Where: The campaign launched today (Sept. 27), and runs for the next 12 months across TV, social video, cinema, out-of-home, radio and digital banners.

Why: Cinema is one of the business segments hit hardest by the pandemic, with Cineplex reporting last month that its year-to-date earnings fell by 65% to just $106.3 million, while attendance through the first six months was a meagre 1.1 million because of lockdown restrictions.

But with audiences slowly returning and some high-profile movies on the docket for the rest of the year (hello, Mr. Bond), the chain wants to woo back cinephiles who’ve grown accustomed to watching movies from the comfort of home over the past year-and-a-half.

Exhibitors have traditionally been content to let the studios do their advertising, with trailers promoting the movies that will draw people to their local multiplex. But earlier this month, the world’s largest theatre chain, AMC took the notable step of launching its largest ad campaign ever.

The “We make movies better” campaign, featuring Nicole Kidman waxing rhapsodic about the “indescribable feeling we get when the lights begin to dim and we go somewhere we’ve never been before,” attracted considerable media attention for being so unusual within the industry (Yahoo Entertainment referred to it as “unprecedented”). AMC paid $25 million to run ads in the U.S. and they’re also being used in nine European countries through AMC’s Odeon Cinema Group.

How: A 50-second video ad called “Love Letter” demonstrates the power of the cinema and its ability to let people escape the everyday, something that can’t be achieved by watching a movie at home.

Shot using only the light from a Cineplex screen, the ad shows Cineplex moviegoers reacting in wonder, surprise, sadness, delight etc. to various on-screen events. “When the world stops…and the show starts…our escape begins,” says the closing voiceover.

A six-second ad called “Skip” references the closing line from Back to the Future with the message “Where we’re going, we don’t need skip,” while another spot, “Action,” shows people reacting to the jolts of adrenaline provided by the on-screen action unfolding in front of them. Social video ads highlight moments people only experience when watching movies in a theatre—such as a mother enjoying two hours of peace while her children are captivated by what’s happening on the big screen, or the moment when a single chuckle can erupt into a theatre-full of laughter while watching a comedy.

One billboard ad bears the message “Cheat on your couch,” reflecting just how engrained the idea of watching movies from home has become during the pandemic. Another billboard focuses on movies’ ability to transport viewers to a different world with the line “The original escape room.”

And we quote: “Watching a movie at Cineplex is one of the only moments we get where we turn off our devices and simply enjoy a moment of escape, free from distraction. We wanted our new brand platform to encapsulate that feeling as we welcome Canadians back to the theatre.” — Sara Moore, senior vice-president, marketing, Cineplex

Chris Powell