SAWA celebrates the power of cinema and the return of cinema advertising in #hellobigscreen

As audiences head back to the big screen, cinema advertising is back at the top of the marketing agenda.

Georgie Moreton

Assistant Editor, BITE


The cinema is well and truly back. After an eighteen-month hiatus the anticipation surrounding flagship releases has increased. No Time To Die saw record box office figures and was the highest opening weekend UK takings of any 007 movie. And, the remainder of the year sees the release of new pictures from award-winning directors like Wes Anderson, Edgar Wright and Guillermo del Toro that will no doubt ensure that film fans keep returning to cinemas. 

With audiences flooding back into their local big screens, the return of cinema comes hand in hand with the return of cinema advertising, where the opportunities seem to be bigger and better than ever before. The immense power and value of cinema advertising is celebrated in SAWA’s new #hellobigscreen ad legends campaign.

I love the Cinema, it’s a Palace of Dreams, a place to be entertained and inspired, where your imagination is set free, and the Cinema Medium is unique in a world of distraction

Sir John Hegarty

The campaign features a series of vignettes from some of the world’s most iconic names in advertising such as Sir John Hegarty, Mark Ritson and Corinne Woods aimed at raising awareness for the unparalleled power and effectiveness of cinema. The campaign aims to support cinema as a medium, showing its extraordinary resilience not only in the last 18 months during the global Covid-19 pandemic, but throughout the last century where cinema has adapted and continued to thrive alongside TV, home videos and, most recently, streaming platforms.

Long-lasting power of cinema 

Since cinemas reopened in the UK in May, audience numbers have hit a huge 45 million admissions across the industry. These impressive numbers are likely to continue into next year too, as upcoming big blockbusters include Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Batman, Top Gun: Maverick, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Streaming services thrived throughout the pandemic and saw production companies start to favour a hybrid streaming/theatrical release. However, Disney recently announced that it will return to theatrical releases only for the remainder of 2021 showing the value of the box office and staying power of cinema. 

‘As the pandemic hit, leading Hollywood Film Directors stood up and endorsed the power of Cinema over all other screens. ’ said Cheryl Wannell, CEO of SAWA. The shared experience of going to the cinema where audiences can be fully immersed in a film is unmatched and simply cannot be replicated via digital or in the home. 

Competitive Attention Economy

In an increasingly competitive attention economy, advertisers have to work hard to ensure that campaigns are seen. The cinema is one of the few places that advertisers have the audience's undivided attention as once a viewer enters the cinema, they are immersed in the picture; ads and trailers are part of the overall experience. 

"I love the Cinema, it’s a Palace of Dreams, a place to be entertained and inspired, where your imagination is set free, and the Cinema Medium is unique in a world of distraction,” said Sir John Hegarty.

Unlike with social media or digital where audiences can easily scroll past advertising, in the cinema audiences watch ads more attentively. Research suggests that cinema ads are up to eight times more effective than TV ads and particularly useful for brand building. 

“This is such an important campaign for our industry. Not only does it highlight the resilience of the cinema medium, but it also celebrates the enthusiasm and love that the industry, creatives and consumers continue to have for cinema, as well as its effectiveness as an advertising platform,” explained said Kathryn Jacob, CEO at Pearl and Dean and Karen Stacey, CEO at Digital Cinema Media. “We are incredibly proud to be members of SAWA and to be collaborating together to support this campaign across our UK cinemas.”

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