How the power of outdoor cinema can help your brand this festive season

Consumers continue to engage with experiences this Christmas

Mike Hope-Milne, Pearl & Dean

Enterprise Director


Although COVID lockdowns were incredibly tough on the cinema industry, there were some entertainment trends that remain hugely popular as a result of the pandemic; namely outdoor cinema. In Summer 2021, ticketing site Eventbrite reported to have seen a 300% increase in listings for drive-in events as people flocked to places that allowed for social distancing. In fact, even pre-pandemic, the open air and live events industry was seeing a growth of around 8% in the UK at the beginning of 2020 and now more people are going to outdoor cinema screenings than last year.

We’re coming up to the busy festive season and the football fever of the World Cup and messages can get lost easily amongst the noise especially in the current cost of living climate. People are still looking for fun and affordable ways to have great experiences together, and this is the perfect opportunity for brands to step in and provide exactly that; reaching different audiences through immersive experiential experiences. There is a particularly exciting opportunity afforded by outdoor cinema.

Creating memorable moments beyond the big screen

Unlike other forms of advertising, people plan to go to the screenings and expect to see advertising as part of the experience; it’s an event they look forward to and they’re often going to be in a receptive mood and innovative fun ideas will be well received. Brands can capitalise on this by creating memorable experiences to compliment their on-screen advertising.

Use the magic feel of the season to engage with customers in a meaningful way.

Mike Hope-Milne, Enterprise Director at Pearl & Dean

Experiential marketing is a great way to create an impressive campaign that offers a direct connection with consumers and provides memorable experiences.

One excellent case study for this is the Luna Cinema, who we have worked closely with over a number of years. Launching again for the festive season, avid cinema-goers across the UK will be able to cosy up in their cars or go to a unique location like Kensington Palace for a unique cinematic experience.

Earlier this year, alongside experiential agency DIVE, mochi ice cream brand, Little Moons installed a one-of-a-kind branded light installation for The Luna Cinema featuring giant glowing inflatable mochi ice cream balls and a bright luminescent moon. Audiences could take photos with the light installation to share on social media - driving conversation online - and treat themselves to an array of Little Moons desserts through an exclusive menu while they watched a film under the stars - boosting brand awareness and sampling. This was a hit amongst viewers. The sale of Little Moons surpassed initial expectations and the spontaneous brand recall was over 70%.

Consumers are receptive to fresh creative links between the film and the product. Any brand can jump on this trend if they find a great link.

Find natural partnerships

The best partnerships are when there’s a natural alignment between the film or experience and the brand.

Beer brand Birra Moretti was a headline sponsor for outdoor cinema events including a hand-made bar and pergola, on-site competitions and a partnership with Italian snack brand Crosta & Mollica. The ad-reel reached over 110,000 admissions, but social posts off the back of the activity also reached nearly 180,000 people.

Food or drink brands make sense to accompany the theatrics of a film, but brands can think creatively about how the link is made; for example providing branded blankets or rugs for people to snuggle up underneath or sit on during the showing. Secret Cinema is another example of a different company that provides bespoke brand partnerships as unique as the film experience itself. For example, TempusTwo bars were built into the Dirty Dancing world this year based at Kellermans Holiday Resort, where attendees could try some of the brand’s best wine cocktails.

HeyCar, an online automotive marketplace, is sponsoring this year’s Luna Cinema at Christmas; what better place to advertise cars than at a drive in where many guests will be motorists? Consumers will be more receptive when the sponsorship feels organic. These are just a few examples of how brands can trial or promote a new product with the help of cinema.

Outdoor cinema provides a great chance for brands to immerse themselves in the life of the consumer by giving them an experiential experience. They can use the magic feel of the season to engage with customers in a meaningful way.

Cinema is one of the few times where no other distractions are present, so it’s an ideal way for brands to communicate their message without the noise of the world getting in the way.

Guest Author

Mike Hope-Milne, Pearl & Dean

Enterprise Director


Mike is Enterprise Director at Pearl & Dean. Responsible for developing new revenue streams and sponsorship opportunities within their portfolio. Over 29 years’ experience in media, having worked for media agencies such as MediaCom and Zenith Media, media owners such as Capital Radio and Classic FM and now the sales side of the business with Pearl & Dean. Outside of the office, Mike can either be found taking on various endurance challenges or making a racket on his drum kit.

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Christmas OOH