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With Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour movie, Cinema advertisers hope for a Q4 boost

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Taylor Swift’s sold out Eras tour will finally be more accessible to the average fan when it hits theaters early next month on October 13th. The buzzy event has cinema ad firms — National CineMedia (NCM) and Screenvision — hoping for a boost in Q4 cinema advertising as consumers and (and their captured attentions) continue to return to theaters.

The concert film will likely help build on cinema advertising’s momentum from the summer’s major movie event, the Barbie and Oppenheimer double feature AKA Barbenheimer. The film, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, is predicted to rake in more than $100 million opening weekend; it has already garnered $37 million in pre-sales for the first day of the film’s release.

“The popularity of box office hits like Barbie and Oppenheimer definitely paved the way,” said Gary Feldman, svp of local investment at Publicis Media. “It gave cinema sellers ideas for how to build excitement and take advantage of any positive buzz for a highly-anticipated, big-screen event (selling tickets in advance and maximizing pre-show on-screen offerings as well as a number of lobby and digital solutions).” 

Feldman continued: “It promises to be a good opportunity for brands looking to align their messaging with Taylor and her enormous fan base. Overall, the combination of movie-goers returning to theaters and studios expanding their slates spells a positive outlook for supply going forward.” 

Marketers for brands in categories like technology, financial services, retail, fashion and insurance, among others, are buying cinema ad spots ahead of the film, according to John Partilla, Screenvision CEO; the cinema ad firm has a 45% share of all cinema tickets sold, though he declined to name names. The firm is building a Swift-inspired pre-show — though it won’t include her music — that it has exclusively offered to 10 brands to help marketers “more effectively tap into the overall Taylor Swift experience,” noted Partilla, adding that overall ad slots were nearly sold out.

“There’s quite a broad appeal of sectors and categories for this experience,” said Partilla. “Just like Barbenheimer, it’s restimulating interest back in the theater. It’s a reminder of how powerful the medium is [for a brand]. People are asking us questions about the Q4 slate, how they can bundle their buy with Taylor Swift and other features in Q4.”

That’s also the case for NCM as marketers are asking about other Q4 opportunities along with advertising for Swift’s film. The cinema advertising firm, which has a roughly 56% share of audience on an average weekend and 70% on opening weekend given its partnerships with Regal, Cinemark and AMC, has seen interest across all categories for the film and is nearly sold out, per Scott Felenstein, president sales, marketing and partnerships at NCM.

“I can’t think of a category we haven’t spoken to,” said Felenstein, adding that NCM is pitching Taylor-specific trivia, customized elements and activation to advertisers. “Everything had to move fairly quickly. We found out about it roughly six weeks before it [will be in theaters]. Traditionally, we have more time when big tentpoles are coming. We had a few days to figure out how we were going to market with it and telling people if they were interested to make a commitment. We’re pretty close to the finish line.”

As consumers returned to theaters for events this summer like Mission Impossible, Barbenheimer and now Swift’s film, marketers are looking for ways to be “more provocative and innovative” with their cinema advertising efforts, noted Jennifer Kohl, chief media officer for VMLY&R, adding that cinema advertising around Barbenheimer allowed brands to get in on the excitement of the moment without having to do a licensing deal. 

“It’s almost like how we used to talk about buying around the Super Bowl,” said Kohl of big cinema events for advertisers, adding that the appeal of being part of a major event as well as the potential for it to be a brand safe area makes it more appealing to advertisers. “Taylor Swift being in the theater is almost a Super Bowl moment for the marketplace.” 

The excitement around the concert film shows the potential of new and different events for cinema screens and the potential appeal for advertisers looking to get in front of certain fanbases, according to agency execs, who say that while the buzzy moment will likely boost cinema advertising for the quarter it may not be enough to change marketers’ behavior altogether when it comes to cinema advertising. 

“To be honest, if you are trying to advertise in a cinema, it’s always a really hard sell,” said Kevin Levin, vp of integrated direct investment and media planning at Gale. “But I would say the pop culture moment surrounding Taylor Swift, Barbie and Oppenheimer [that probably drove interest]. Anytime you bring Taylor Swift into the fold, she’s going to be an amplifier on anything you do.”

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