Following an introduction from Laura Houlgatte, CEO, UNIC and Jan Runge, Independent Consultant, the event was kickstarted by an interview of Alex Holden, General Manager, CX, Marketing and Sales, Event Cinemas – the leading cinema chain in Australia and New Zealand. Among other things, we learned more about the large-scale audience survey the company published in May 2020, which highlighted how much Australians were looking forward to cinemas reopening and helped Event Cinemas shape and fine tune their customer experience during the pandemic. We also heard more about audience trends and preferences in New Zealand, a country which has been praised worldwide for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis and where cinemas have remained open since June 2020.
This was followed by an introduction from Jan Runge, setting the scene for the presentations and panel that would follow. He highlighted the profound disruptions brought by the COVID-19 crisis in the past months on cinema marketing and the cinema-going experience in general. Lucy Jones, Executive Director, Comscore Movies then gave a presentation on lockdown learning and how to accelerate the next re-opening phase. Lucy provided facts & figures on the global reopening process and insight on the performance of various titles depending on territory, location and other parameters. Claudiu Tanasescu, CEO and Founder, Share Dimension then discussed the impact of COVID-19 restriction on cinema capacity and the consequences of occupancy caps on box office results. Looking more closely at the customer journey, Sarah Lewthwaite, Chief Client Officer, Movio then gave a presentation on how and where audiences get information and how this has changed during the pandemic. Finally, Julien Marcel, CEO, The Boxoffice Company shared his views on key learnings and outlook after 9 months into COVID-19 and how this crisis could be as an opportunity to experiment with more innovative and creative engagement solutions.
Jan Runge then moderated a panel conversation involving Helena Eklund, Commercial Director, Northern Europe (NO, SE, FI and Baltics), ODEON Cinemas Group, Samuel Bolaños, Director of Marketing & Revenues, Cinépolis Spain, Yelmo Cines, Maja Crnogorac, International Marketing, Cineplexx International and Olga Proskuriakova, Vice President, Marketing and F&B, Karo Film Management. The speakers shared updates on the reopening process in the different territories that they covered. They all mentionned the significant impact of strong local titles in the recovery process across Europe. The panellists also shared best practices from their reopening strategy, from collaborating with influencers to launching a F&B delivery service during lockdown. When asked about positive learning from the last 6 months, all highlighted that people felt safe about going to the cinema and had quickly adapted to digital ticketing and contact-less technology. Another topic discussed was opportunities and challenges related to managing a more diverse film slate, which encouraged cinema operators to better identify the right audience for a wide range of content, contribute more to promotion efforts, as well as constantly engage with local talents, directors, and producers.
The panel was followed by a presentation from Derren Sequeira, Head of Entertainment, Facebook UK on the broader impact of COVID-19 on audience behaviour, sharing learnings from a recently published report. This was followed by a conversation between participants, sharing best practice and learnings from ongoing and future local national reopening campaigns.
If you want to learn about audience engagement initiatives from UNIC members during closure and as part of the reopening process, please check our databases on the topic available here.
More digital events are planned for the first half of 2021, so please stay tuned!