The impact of Covid-19 on the Indian Economy has been disastrous, and recovery at the moment seems very far. Almost every industry has been down and out and is barely surviving by just scraping the barrel.
One such business of the M&E industry for which the long dark tunnel is still continuing with no visible light at the end is the multiplex and cinema business. Movie theatres across the country have only been bleeding ever since the lockdown began in March this year. And till date, the government has not issued any notice on when can movie buffs go back to enjoy their movies on the big screen. While some movies have gone ahead and released films on OTT platforms, there are some films that are awaiting the grand reopening of the box office.
In this part-two of the feature on Drive-in theatres, we asked media agency experts on the possibility and feasibility of drive-in theatres in India, and whether brands would want to engage with their audiences if given the chance!
Drive-in theatres – Yay! or Nay?
Mohit Joshi, MD – India, Havas Media Group, feels that multiplex companies are among the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as they have had absolutely no revenue through the lockdown period.
He said, “India has been far behind other countries when it comes to drive-in theatres. We only have a few however given the pandemic the possibility of having more drive-through theatre set-ups can definitely be a reality. However, going to a movie in a multiplex is an experience which is bundled with eating out, shopping in a mall, meeting friends etc – these things will definitely not be possible in a drive in theatre.
Deepak Kumar, Director, Ambient, C Lab, ROOH and Brandscope from the Denstu Aegis Network feels that drive-in theatres would be an exciting addition to cinema screening option. He said, “Cinema halls would continue to attract consumers once it reopens. I do not feel that drive-through would be able to replace multiplexes owing to its sheer presence. While drive-through would attract consumers from a pure experience point of view, I don’t think it would be become an alternative to multiplexes.”
Mamatha Morvankar, Chief Investment Officer at Omnicom Media Group feels that the current COVID-19 situation certainly provides some kind of opportunity for drive-in theatres. And lays down a few valid points of concern, “Firstly, the space to set up the screen and place to park that many cars! And of course, as it will be a post-sunset experience, the shows will be limited. Open-air also comes with issues of mosquitoes and bugs and the weather, which means it will also be season-specific. For multiplexes, the major question will be whether they can add spaces across cities and across various locations in a single city? This will not be an easy proposition considering the cost of lease of acquisition of these space and the losses they have incurred due to the lockdown.”
Would brands drive in to a drive-in?
Being optimistic, Mohit Joshi, MD – India, Havas Media Group said, “Brands can consider this medium if they are able to attract a good amount of footfall as the outdoor medium has reported a pickup of 25-30% in recent months and it will only increase in the coming months. Since there has been an absolute dearth of any outdoor activity/activations, brands will be able to draw onto their audiences faster.”
While, Mamatha Morvankar of Omnicom Media Group feels that Brands that are currently associated inside the theatres with the F&B section, can continue to be a part of the drive-through experience. Adding she said, “A challenge here as well would be the limited time frame for the experience as the shows will be post sunset. Plus, of course, getting the undivided attention of the consumers who are at the drive-through would pose a bit of a hurdle as most of them may be in their cars!”
According to Deepak Kumar, from an engagement perspective, drive-through would offer great opportunity for brands to do ‘in moment’ advertising. He said, “The canvas would be far greater than what we have experienced in multiplexes so far. This would open up far greater interaction with the consumers at the risk of it becoming intrusive.”
On the brand categories that would bet on drive-through theatres, Deepak Kumar feels that auto and ancillary is the best fitment besides the obvious categories like FMCG and finance. Car makers would help identify brand fitment.
While the Havas Media top boss, Mohit Joshi feels that categories could vary from a niche-segment to an FMCG category or even an E-com player, purely depending on the demographics of the audience.
On the advertiser sentiment and agency perspective, Mamatha Morvankar of Omnicom Media Group said, “the key challenge would be reach of the medium. These would be most often limited to just one location in a city! With the experience of movies moving from multiplexes to homes, will consumers feel safe to again resume going outside to watch movies even post the COVID-19 situation, is a question worth answering. Additionally, VOD platforms are making the movie-watching experience really cost effective to the cinema goer as compared to visiting the theatre.”
Deepak Kumar feels that for advertisers, it is a great platform to explore as people are there with entertainment in mind and with the intent to spend.