"You can't tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That's not how they live their life."
So said AMC chief executive Adam Aron, when announcing that his company is thinking about allowing mobile phone use during films that might appeal to young adults. AMC operates almost 400 movie theaters in the United States, totaling more than 5,000 screens,.
The response, of course, has been one of horror and dismay—it’s the end of the civilized world as we know it. A CNN Money story includes these tweets:
While this might not be the best of news for movie-goers and cinephiles of a certain age, I am thinking this could be a turn of events that marketers should embrace.
There is no doubt that, soon enough, having one’s smartphone or other device out, in use, and available at all times will be the accepted norm; in many circles (22-year-olds, anyone?) it already is. When we geezers get out of the way, there will be very few—save some nostalgia-loving retrophiliacs—who care at all whether one’s cellphone is pocketed or in use, regardless of the situation. Think of those people who wear bow ties, or smoke pipes, or don a pocket square. (I fear these types are mostly men; I can’t think of a female example.) They will balk as the rest of the world talks and clicks.
This does not, for the most part, describe marketers, who, if they are worth their ROI, must be cool with the new, up on the trends, hip to the vibe, aware of the zeitgeist—and then take advantage of all that to sell stuff. If you sell stuff that has any connection to being at the movies, all the better. Soda coupons, popcorn upgrades, free tickets, something with Raisinets, and the like.
And what about all the new opportunities for product placement? It’s mind-boggling: A Jaguar driven by George Clooney hits the screen, and a text is sent to moviegoers for a free test drive with the ticket stub the next day. Or the dress worn by Scarlett Johansson can be photographed right off the screen, and local purveyors and prices appear.
I am sure real marketers can come up with much better ideas, but the point remains: This is the kind of “mobility” that our Giselle Abramovich wrote about in her recent feature on the subject. Mobility is being described as the blending of the physical and digital worlds. So the equation goes something like: Mobility = Marketers + Millennials + Movies. Maybe we are at the end of the movie-going world as we know it. But I prefer to view it as the beginning of a new world of connected marketing.
[Editor's Note: Well, don’t get too excited, marketers—AMC has already abandoned this forwarding-thinking idea: “We have heard loud and clear that this is a concept our audience does not want. A note from AMC CEO Adam Aron announced that the theater chain would not allow texting in the foreseeable future.”]
See what the Twitterverse is saying about mobile marketing.