National CineMedia's New Target Crowd: TV's "Unreachables"

By Upfronts/NewFronts Archives
Cover image for  article: National CineMedia's New Target Crowd: TV's "Unreachables"

On the afternoon after what has turned out to be the most controversial Academy Awards presentation in both TV and entertainment history, National CineMedia resumed its annual in-person Upfront affair. The aim: invite advertisers to spend more on messages running on movie theater screens prior to the feature presentation. The Upfront site: Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater.

The Big Message: With movie attendance back in vogue post-pandemic, thanks to recent blockbusters such as Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Batman, a new 18-34 adult crowd is coming through the turnstiles that National CineMedia executives label "unreachables" -- a crowd whose constituents prefer to not watch TV at all, or if they do, to watch Netflix or other ad-free subscription services. In-theater messages can reach this audience -- if they are not running one after another with movie trailers in a 30- or 60-minute pre-feature package. "Unreachables don't hate advertising," explained NCM Chief Revenue Officer Mike Rosen. "They want advertising on their own terms."

Host: Various NCM executives led portions of the presentation, starting with Chief Executive Officer Tom Lesinski and wrapping with Dan Hahn, Senior Vice President of Ad Sales, East Coast. Each presenter handled their hosting duties in engaging, snappy fashion.

What Worked: The connection of one aspect of the presentation to the next, almost like watching a novel or short story come to life. Good mix of graphics and video clips from current and upcoming movies later this year and 2023. Another welcome point: encouraging commercial placement before non-genre blockbusters, such as dramas and live-action movies directed at families.

What Also Worked: Popcorn, soda, water and some appetizers on hand for attendees to munch on or sip before the presentation. More short bites, including a radish taco with creamy tofu filling, were plentiful during the post-event reception. Bravo to Walter Reade's catering crew.

What Didn't Work: Nothing to report here, because everything worked!

Data Points: Seventy-nine percent of moviegoers at NCM-affiliated theaters are under age 39; 43 percent are multicultural. More 18-34 adults watched Spider-Man: No Way Home during its opening weekend than the Super Bowl! According to NCM-acquired research, viewer recall of cinema messages is three times that of TV commercials. More than 1,600 theaters nationwide, offering more than 20,700 screens, run ads placed by NCM. Participating theater owners include AMC Entertainment (no relation to AMC Networks), Cinemark Holdings and Regal Entertainment Group.

News: Now in business: Noovie Studios, an in-house entity creating both original short-form series for Noovie, NCM's pre-feature attraction, and customized ads for participating brands. Initial series on display now or launching by late summer include The Noovie Trivia Show, a mix of celebrity interviews and on-the-spot trivia tests hosted by Maria Menounos (host of the Interactive Advertising Bureau's virtual Digital Content NewFront last year); Perri's Picks, featuring movie reviews, previews and commentary from expert/social media influencer Perri Nemiroff, andNoovieverse, which devotes each episode to a new Marvel or DC superhero theatrical film. Future short-form originals will cover trends in food, travel, home design/renovation and community projects, co-produced with ATTN, Tastemade and other unscripted content makers. Separately, NCMx, a database of movie attendee behavior designed for use in targeted ad buys, is now operational. The goal, according to Manu Singh, the company's Senior Vice President of Strategic Insights and Analytics, is to deliver on-screen messages to the right audience at the right place and time.

Parting Words:

"Spider-Man: No Way Home was a cultural sensation. It re-energized the entire movie experience. There's an incredible movie slate coming over the next two years." -- Scott Felenstein (pictured at top), National CineMedia President of Sales and Marketing

"Isn't it good to be back in a theater with other people? I just ask that no one comes on stage to slap me." -- Tom Lesinski

"The 'unreachables' refuse to watch advertising at home. They refuse to play by the old media rules." -- Mike Rosen

"You want to reach the 'unreachables'? They're coming to the theater week after week … No medium is more engaging than cinema." -- Manu Singh

"By far the [movie] screen is the best canvas for storytelling." -- Perri Nemiroff

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