Pearl & Dean inks agency deal amid big changes to cinema

Pearl & Dean inks agency deal amid big changes to cinema

Cinema advertising contractor Pearl & Dean has announced a formal collaboration with DIVE, a start-up agency with a focus on experiential campaigns, productions, stunts, and events in film and cinema advertising.

DIVE only launched in January 2021, with the founders each having at least 12 years’ experience in cinema marketing.

It had previously worked with Pearl & Dean on projects throughout the past year, such as aligning Green & Black’s with cinema via a chocolate, film and cocktail pairing experience with Everyman, bringing the campaign to life with a UK premiere for the British film Silent Night.

While the formal collaboration means it will become a sister agency to Pearl & Dean, each will have separate day-to-day teams but shared leadership and operational resources.

Cinema back with a vengeance?

The move comes as Brits cautiously return to cinemas in a changed film industry in the aftermath of pandemic restrictions.

Audience numbers have thus far had a bumpy ride in their return to normalcy –  for instance, this January saw 8.2 million cinema admissions compared to 16.5 million in 2020, just before Covid caused official shutdowns in March of that year.

That figure represents a nearly 50% drop in cinemagoers, though other months with big blockbuster releases – for example No Time to Die and Spider-Man: No Way Home – have fared much better.

“There is definitely a belief that cinema is back with vengeance especially with the record-breaking stats from the Spider-Man film last year along with admissions spiking around October and December back to about 80% of pre-pandemic admissions levels, which was fantastic and a real success for them considering just six months prior cinemas were closed,” Michelle Sarpong of the7stars tells The Media Leader.

P&D competitor and market leader Digital Cinema Media projects 2022 audience admissions will reach about 80% of 2019’s record-breaking year.

Ellie Davidson, executive director at DIVE, acknowledged the effect the pandemic has had on the industry: “We really appreciate the value of peoples’ free time, especially right now as we ease out of this pandemic, and so an important part of our work at DIVE is helping people to make the most of it.”

But Bryony Lawler, head of AV at Starcom, is bullish on the industry returning to form.

“The resurgence in cinema admissions since the Covid pandemic has proven that Cinema still draws in the crowds, and advertisers are reacting,” Lawler notes.

“The large majority of pre-Covid cinema-spending advertisers have already returned to the big screen. The beauty of cinema advertising is that it can fit any brand, objective and budget.”

‘Streaming stealing share from TV’ (not cinema… unless)

The partnership between Pearl & Dean and DIVE nevertheless shows how cinema ad agencies are looking to get creative to attract more attendees.

While virus fears may still weigh on some, the proliferation of streaming services and at-home releases has also caused worry that viewers may call into question the cost-benefits of going to the cinema rather than simply streaming the next big film on their home TV.

“Streaming services are mostly stealing share from TV audiences and will steal cinema audiences if the likes of Disney+ continue to release films almost simultaneously (or even a few weeks after) with the cinema release as we all know a cinema trip is expensive once all the popcorn, drinks and sweets are bought,” says Sarpong.

“With the cost of living rising this could have an impact on admissions in terms of costs, but if cinemas adopt price saving schemes to make cinema trips more affordable then they will be able to continue to see growth.”

Lawler is even more optimistic, noting that cinema “holds a special place in the hearts of many in the UK” and that there has been pent-up demand for audiences to return.

The popularity of streaming has also driven a film and TV production ‘boom‘ in the UK.

Pearl & Dean had 23.7% of ad revenue share in 2021 against a 20.2% admissions market share, according to numbers by Nielsen and CAA.

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