A Better Time at the Theaters: IMAX Wants to Be a ‘Consumer Brand’ in 2012
Want to know who appreciates a good time at the theaters?
Me, that’s who!
I love the magic of film, and I love the communal atmosphere that movie theaters provide filmgoers. Enjoying a flick at home is convenient, but the experience is a bit more captivating on the big screen.
And when it comes to “big screens,” most moviegoers know that it doesn’t get much better than IMAX.
The term “IMAX” itself is practically synonymous with “size,” and the average dimensions of an IMAX theater screen (72 by 52.8 feet) probably have something to do with that.
When I get excited about an upcoming movie, one of the things that factors into my excitement is the possibility of seeing that movie at the IMAX. I suppose I’m just a brand loyalist in that regard.
As such, I’m particularly excited about the following:
An article from MediaPost News recently indicated that IMAX “wants to establish itself as a consumer brand and will launch a marketing campaign in the first half of .” According to the company’s CEO, “the concept will focus on the company ‘providing the most sensory engaging moviegoing experience possible,’ while looking to convey a ‘powerful and visceral message that will connect with consumers on an emotional level.’”
Personally, I find it interesting that IMAX has gone this long without a traditional marketing campaign to call its own.
Sure, we often see the IMAX logo attached to end of big-budget film trailers, and we see brief promotional spots played inside IMAX theaters before the main feature begins, but we never see commercials on TV or on the web that focus solely on IMAX itself.
Even more surprising is that the brand has gone so long without so much as a mascot or catchy jingle to promote it. Heck, its logo is nothing more than the bolded letters, I-M-A-X!
All things considered, IMAX has relied heavily on consumer word-of-mouth to market itself over the years.
The approach has worked well for the brand thus far. A quick look at IMAX’s corporate overview will reveal that as of August 30, 2011, “there were 560 IMAX theatres (417 commercial multiplex, 25 commercial destination and 118 institutional) operating in 46 countries.”
There’s no doubt that the company is doing well for itself, but if IMAX is going to “connect with consumers on an emotional level,” as the above article indicates, it’ll need to project a brand image that goes beyond the bigger-is-better approach. Pushing the “sensory experience” angle is a good way to start, but in doing so, the company will need to explain why such an experience is vital to our appreciation of cinema as a whole.
For someone like me (who is already a “big screen” devotee), the brand will be preaching to the choir, but for someone less interested in paying the extra cost for the IMAX experience, the company will need to appeal to deeper human needs – the need for immersion, the need for escape, etc.
A traditional marketing effort (whether that entails TV commercials, web-based ads, viral campaigns, giveaways, or any combination thereof) might be just the thing IMAX needs to fully develop its brand image and convey that it provides an experience consumers can’t find elsewhere.
People love to be wowed, and it’s difficult not to be impressed by the kind of sheer, visual spectacle the IMAX format already offers. The heads at IMAX’s marketing division most likely understand that already. What remains to be seen is whether they understand how to communicate that such spectacle isn’t just about having a better time at the theater, but about having a better time.
Will IMAX pull it off in 2012? Will the “sensory experience” make it a brand that consumers can’t be without? Share your thoughts below!