Valladolid, Day 2 – branding, marketing & communication

Starting the day with a pleasant walk through Valladolid, today’s session tackled branding, marketing and communications strategies – so maybe fresh air to begin was necessary! But Ioana Dragomirescu and Mathias Holtz reassured the group that although big topics, which can require a lot of time, attention and resources, today we will hear from exhibitors and experts to help us better understand marketing strategies.

First up was Ioana (Cinema Victoria, Romania) who took the floor to present the challenges and approaches her team undertook when reopening five of Timisoara’s traditional cinemas. Focusing on branding, Ioana discussed how each venue has a unique identity but exists within a coherent ecosystem. Above everything else, Ioana says, that each cinema should feel like home, audiences should feel represented. 

We then heard from Claudia Sirbulescu, also from a cinema named Cinema Victoria in Romania, about their approach to ‘rebranding an old cinema’. Cinema Victoria took a minimal approach to their visual identity, opting for joyful, bright colours and ditching their ‘old bourgeois red that felt unwelcoming’, relaunching a redesigned newsletter, programme and website.

Andrea Frenguelli, from Post Modernissimo, was next up presenting an impressive ‘Stakeholder Map’. Andrea championed the importance of keeping connected with stakeholders, connecting with your community as your community is those who care about you. To keep connected Andrea has created a spreadsheet, a stakeholder map, consisting of local contacts and organisations. This map, Andrea notes, took time to develop and is a living document, growing and expanding as their networks and activities grow and change.

We rounded off this section on branding with a ‘surgery slot’. Antonella Cipressini from Cinema Olimpia, Italy, posed the question, “How to Find Time and Skills to Work on Rebranding My Cinema?”. Many exhibitors in the room share the same issues of lack of time or resources to undertake a major overhaul of their branding across all platforms.

After a short coffee break, Deborah Shirley Cohrs, Digital Communication and Marketing Consultant joined us from Germany via Zoom. An online format was suited for her presentation, ‘Navigating the Digital Marketing Landscape’. Deborah offered clear and deeply knowledgeable insight into ways in which cinemas can develop their ‘digital touch points’ and help drive people towards their online channels. Covering some of the forefronts of the online landscape, including the much-discussed-in-the-Lab Tiktok, Deborah highlighted some simple solutions for marketing. These included setting aside an hour a week to plan your social media posts or to set a few KPIs for your marketing, like growing your newsletter subscribers or engagement on Instagram, so you can track your growth.

Next up Megan Mitchell, from Matchbox Cine in Scotland and also the Lab’s social media whizz, presented a short and snappy social media approach, ‘who’, ‘why’, and’ how’. Megan urged exhibitors to first think about who they want to engage online and understand why they want to engage them before moving onto the ‘how’, selecting one platform or approach to engage them on. 
Then it was time for the first workshop! In groups, the exhibitors undertook a SWOT analysis of their marketing and social media approaches, with the cohort finding they share similar successes and challenges. Deborah joined us once again to hear from the groups and feedback some ideas based on the SWOT. 

After a well-deserved lunch, we were back again with Ioana, who presented a more in-depth presentation on Cinema Victoria’s programming, looking at five monthly series for targeted audiences. These series are: Film After School, CineMunte, CineMami, Cinemateca TIFF and Cinemateca Itineranta. Each series speaks directly to a different audience, everyone from parents with babies to those who enjoy running. The programming has succeeded as it is well-defined, regular and engaging for each targeted audience.

Antonio Piljan, from Kino Valli, Croatia, presented on another hot topic of the Lab, young people. Kino 15+ came about as Kino Valli identified that teenagers and students were missing from their audiences. Now, they have a team of young programmers who choose films and introduce them alongside additional activities like quizzes, concerts etc. The young people also show their own short films in the cinema, using Instagram to reach their peers to come along. 

Hester Simons of Slieker, Netherlands, spoke about Het Noordelijk Filmfestival which will begin its 43rd edition on 8th November. Hester spoke about tapping into your team’s passion, showing a very well-crafted Wes Anderson-inspired promotional video created by her team. Cinema doesn’t need to be within four walls as Tamás Liszka from Budapest Film in Hungary showed. Tamás presented on ‘Pop-up Outdoor Community Cinemas as Cultural Outposts’, stating that ‘when people don’t come to cinema, cinema goes to them’. And cinema seems to have gone everywhere in Budapest, including castles, a zoo and a spa!

The day was rounded off by another surgery slot “Event Programming vs Regular Programming, How to Strike the Right Balance?”, asked by Alicia Nieto from Renoir, Spain. ‘If everything is special, nothing is special’ Alicia said, which makes promoting multiple special events difficult. The cohort offered some ideas, including integrating regular special programming slots.

And finally, the Lab took a trip to Cines Casablanca, hearing from the team there about their programming and marketing efforts, including their daily Whatsapp messages to audiences, and enjoyed their lovely plush red cinema seats!