How Cinema can Help you Find Hard to Reach Audiences

Learn how marketers can use cinema to take targeting to new levels and get in front of attentive audiences that are otherwise hard to find.   

Look around, who’s buying the popcorn?

When you’re at the cinema, you’ll find just about every age group go through its doors at some time or other. For brands, it means they have great potential to reach new audiences and get in front of specific demographics.

What makes cinema really stand out though, is that movie audiences are captivated ones. They aren’t twiddling with their smartphones (you’d hope) and they aren’t chatting to family or doing the ironing while they watch.

As Sodexo’s report, ‘The Reel Deal’ tells us, film audiences are totally absorbed and committed to the whole entire experience, from start to end. And that’s an exciting proposition for marketers. Add that to the fact that cinema is growing in popularity, and it’s an attractive scene to contemplate.

When it comes to planning and implementing your marketing ideas, it’s time for a spot of Carpe Diem. Seize the day and steer your next campaign towards the silver screen and it’ll pay off in more ways than one. 

Here’s how cinema can help you reach 66% of people, yet still allow you to be highly selective as you do it…


You might think that the rise of streaming and box sets would lead to fewer bums on seats in cinemas, but actually it seems that internet streaming is only getting us more interested in film – with a whopping 170.6 million admissions to British cinemas in 2017, up 1.4% on the year before. 

And those admission numbers aren't showing any signs of slowing down, either... 2018 saw cinemas enjoying their largest audiences since the 70's.

A front runner in capturing viewers’ hearts and minds using home technology were Disney and Lucasfilms. In 2015, they made the six existing Star Wars films available on streaming services, fuelling the frenzy for that year’s December cinema release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 

These also included a dazzling array of extras, like special effects reels and deleted scenes. To be fair, it’s the kind of imaginative detail you’d expect from the people who gave us the force, ewoks and furry bounty hunters.

It proved to be a marketing campaign that was out of this world, and no wonder the film came top of the UK charts that year. In a similar vein, any parent will tell you that kids’ cinema films are well promoted inside their own homes. It’s all designed to pique our interest and get that pester power working to the max.

Meanwhile, everyone else wants to be the first of their friends to say they’ve seen the latest blockbuster and shout about it on social media. They may also want to discuss the merits of a film – Dunkirk got us all talking about whether live action sequences with extras are superior to those using CGI.

Either way, this kind of customer engagement creates excitement around a film release and it had everyone racing to the nearest big screen in 2018.

New is now and people can’t get enough of film promotions or the pictures they’re crowing about.  

The Power of Cinema Free Online Guide - Click Here


We know that cinema is appealing to audiences of Titanic proportions. If you’re seeking mass appeal, that’s one thing. But cinema promotions can be highly targeted and lead to your brand getting in front of some super niche audiences too.

Paul Parry, Head of Filmology, says, “With cinema you can virtually guarantee that the audience you attract will be of a certain demographic. Based on a particular genre or the specific talent featured in a film, there is always something you can work with which will allow you to align your brand with a title, giving you maximum benefit from a partnership.” Buoyant words indeed.

Let’s take millennials and Generation Z, for example.

Sodexo’s study tells us BFI data shows that ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ had the largest above-average audience share among the 15-24 age group. In December 2017, research from US digital film network, Fandango, revealed that the top films millennials intended to see that month were: ‘Star Wars - The Last Jedi’, ‘Jumanji’, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and ‘Pitch Perfect 3’.

Marketers seeking to get in front of this often illusive and fragmented audience can park any sinking feelings they may have had to date. Because you’ll almost certainly find them at the flicks.

Andy England, CEO of National CineMedia, NCM, says, “Millennials still want to go to the movie theatre because there’s still that allure of first-run movies. There’s an appeal to watching first-run movies with other people, in front of the big screen, with a big container of popcorn.”

Then there was ‘The Lady in the Van’, a story by Alan Bennett, a well-known literary figure in certain circles. When it drove into cinemas, the film had the largest share among cinema-goers aged 55 and over. No surprise there – Maggie Smith was its octogenarian anti-heroine and the story floated a charming tale about the relationships we make and break.

Yes, cinema promotions can be effective at getting brands in front of different age groups and boost sales, too.. For many marketers, that can mean full steam ahead and watch out for any icebergs.

But here’s where it gets really interesting…


We’ve established that whether you want to target families, millennials or retirees, cinema can help you do just that. But better still, you can drill this down further, even to the point where you can know the earning potential of the people likely to attend the film in question.

Sodexo’s report tells us certain genres, franchises and films will have appeal to individual demographics, and like the sweet smell of popcorn kernels in a cinema foyer, that can help brands to attract customers they’re craving.

For example, the BFI tells us that ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, ‘Suffragette’ and ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ attracted significant above-average audiences from the AB social group, defined as being in ‘higher and intermediate managerial, administrative, professional occupations’.

While ‘Taken 3’ proved a hit with the DE group, defined as ‘semi-skilled, unskilled manual occupations, unemployed and lowest grade occupations’.

For marketers seeking to target a younger audience, two of the most popular releases with the C1 social group, defined as being in ‘supervisory, clerical & junior managerial, administrative, professional occupations’ were ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ and ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’.

The Mintel Report has further revelations about where certain audiences can be located too. For example, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ attracted the highest significant above-average audience in London and the home counties in 2015. In the North West, all the films with above-average audiences were American studio productions, with ‘Jurassic World’ and ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ having the greatest appeal.

The detail of insight like this can really give marketers the perfect aim when it comes to breaking ground and hitting those all-important targets.

Now that’s what we call Sudden Impact.


If you’re seeking a tried and tested audience in particular, look to movie franchises to create buzz around your brand. It’s worked for the likes of Omega and James Bond, McDonalds and Minions, and Warburtons and Paddington – to name a few.

Create new brand partnerships and you can attract customers, boost brand loyalty and aid customer retention. Plus it’s likely you’ll engage consumers by the popcorn bucketful.

Who can forget the heart-warming scene in Paddington 2, where our loveable furry friend teaches a hardened criminal to make marmalade?

It’s no wonder that Warburtons were quick to invest £2.5 million in an on-pack promotional tie-in offering a child’s Cineworld film ticket with the purchase of any two packs of half and half bread. It was the perfect accompaniment for marmalade sandwich aficionados everywhere. Just add bear. Or rabbit.

Peter Rabbit is hopping on to screens in 2018 and so far, lifestyle brand Joules has joined a long list of merchandise licensing partners, all hoping to see the little rabbit with the big heart bring some of his cheeky cheer to their businesses.

And who can blame them?

Peter Rabbit may be a standalone film (for the moment) but it comes from the movie house that re-introduced the world to Paddington. Sequels could soon be on the horizon.

Paul Parry, Head of Filmology, says, “If you’re a brand manager or marketer that has had experience with a particular title before and you know your brand aligns well with that film due to its values, content and audience, it’s a safe bet. You know it will have, at worst, a reasonable amount of success and you can probably even predict the box office takings. Just look at Müllerlight and Moet & Chandon’s partnerships with ‘Sex and the City 2’, or McDonalds and ‘Minions’. You know what you’ll get.”

It’s these kind of brand partnerships that can reach niche audiences and create customer engagement that goes way beyond the cabbage patch.


We could go on, but the point is, if you know where to look, it can really pay off. You can use cinema promotions to reward loyal customers or attract new ones with competitions or other prize incentives and cinema rewards.

Sodexo’s ‘The Reel Deal’ report advises taking one of two popular approaches to forthcoming films:

  1. Cinema ticket promotions
  2. Brand partnerships

To help with this, an engagement solutions expert will be able to give you the inside track on the next exciting film releases coming to a screen near you. There are all sorts of trends emerging in cinema and marketers who are quick to leap on the latest promotional ideas will soon have stars in their eyes. 

Sodexo has a specialist film database that’s regularly updated and even contains information on the next five years’ worth of Marvel films. Now that’s some serious planning ahead – something we like a lot.

With cinema rewards and a little foresight, you can plan your next marketing campaign within an inch of its life or paw, as you close in on those relevant and captive imaginations. And when you do, you’ll truly stand to separate your Tony Sopranos from your Don Corleones…


Check out the brand new Filmology website - click here