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What Coke, Walmart, Disney and Baru Advertising Shared about Driving Hispanic Moviegoers to Theaters

We have our version of the Upfront every May.  But this is the first time we joined the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) for its version of the Upfront at Cinemacon 2015.  Cinemacon is the largest trade show for the movie industry, but it’s also where all the Hollywood studios present their upcoming slates to exhibitors across the country.  It’s a forum to get theaters excited and commit to carrying films.  It’s also a place for theater owners to connect with peers and learn about new technologies and opportunities to drive their businesses forward.

That’s where we came in.  Univision was invited to lead a session about driving Hispanics to theaters.  It’s an important topic.  Hispanics are the most valuable moviegoers in America because they go more often, with more people and they tend to prefer an opening weekend experience.  But possibly even more important for theaters is that Hispanics make movie-going a habit.  Nielsen’s research shows that 33% of Hispanics attend on a specific day of the week vs. 17% for non-Hispanics.  When you look at the Spanish-dominant or bilingual segment, that number jumps to 41%.

The question for theaters becomes: how do I get Hispanics to think “my theater first?”  That’s what I sought to answer during a panel featuring Baru Advertising’s Founder Elizabeth Barrutia, Disney’s VP of Multicultural Initiatives Christine Cadena, Walmart Marketing Director Javier Delgado-Granados and Coke’s Senior Manager of the Multicultural Center of Excellence Daneyni Sanguinetti.  These themes came through loud and clear.

Know your Customer.  Sanguinetti described her role at Coke as being the “Insights Bodyguard,” making sure the Hispanic strategy is properly developed across all brand marketing plans.  Without a solid base of consumer insights – and a deep understanding of passion points – you’re not likely able to build programs that create a lasting connection.  Delgado-Granados agreed:  “Theater managers should understand what days their customers come in, who they attend with and what they buy.”   This knowledge can only come from “paying attention.” Cadena explained: “We need help from our theater partners.  Every Monday morning – every day – we all need to be paying attention and sharing our learnings.”

Be Relevant.  Speak directly with Hispanics, whether it’s in language or highlighting a culturally relevant theme.  Barrutia shared how her agency crafted an “ownable insight” for “Boxtrolls” that let Hispanics know this movie was for them.  “The tagline ‘dare to be square’ just wasn’t going to work for this audience in Spanish.  Instead we focused on the concept of ‘it’s what’s inside that matters.’ This was based on a universal truth that elicited the emotional response we needed to draw Hispanics in,” she said.

Create Inclusive Experiences.  Hispanic marketing doesn’t have to be about Hispanic-only experiences.  In fact, Cadena found quite the opposite.  “The number one thing we’ve learned is that Hispanics want to be included; they want to be invited to the party.”  That’s why Disney peppers multicultural insights in “general market” campaigns, too.  An English-language commercial for the theme parks division featured a Hispanic family in all sorts of humorous family bonding moments at the park.  It’s also why Walmart decided to move away from its Supermercado concept (separate stores built specifically for Hispanics).  “We want to build a culture of appreciation within all of our stores.  And it’s not just the one aisle.  It’s making sure Hispanic products sit side-by-side other similar products throughout the store,” shared Delgado-Granados.

All of our panelists ended with some ideas that could help theaters owners build loyalty and repeat attendance.  Sanguinetti: “Bring the stadium to them. How about showing soccer games on your big screens?  Or offering Mother’s Day specials for this family-first audience?”  Delgado-Granados: “Think about your concession mix and make sure your staff represents the local customers you serve.”  Cadena: “Create immersive in-theater experiences. This is a consumer that loves movie going and wants to be engaged.” Barrutia: “Use digital executions to drive traffic and engagement.  And pay attention to those metrics!”

The more studios and theaters can work together to drive Hispanic attendance, the better it is for the box office overall.  Here’s how Cadena put it:  “There is an economic reality to why we’re focused on Hispanic consumers across all our divisions.”

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