New rules to screen cinema ads

New minimum standards to raise the quality of cinema advertising are set to be introduced early next year, Campaign can reveal.

The regulations have been drawn up by Dubai-based firm Motivate Val Morgan, which sells advertising for the CineStar chain of cinemas in the UAE.

The company says that it will allow advertisers a short 'grace' period in the New Year to get used to the new rules, after which it will refuse to show advertisements that do not meet minimum audio-visual requirements.

"From next year we want to make sure that this medium is the quality medium to advertise in," said Liam Marshall, general manager of Motivate Val Morgan in Dubai.

"Because we belong to the Screen Advertising World Association, we have to commit to certain minimum international standards, but we're going a little bit further as far as sound quality, visual quality and screen size are concerned."

He added: "It's almost like we're going back to the advertiser now and saying that it's in their interests to be seen in a quality environment. Cinemas now can produce awesome sound and visuals and we've got to make sure that the commercials that are shown are as good as the medium itself."

Marshall said that at present the quality of advertising varies greatly. While some advertisers are willing to invest the necessary resources required to produce high-quality adverts, others are content to produce "rubbish" ads, which diminish the overall effectiveness of cinema as a medium.

"This will benefit all advertisers at the end of the day. "Some people have a commercial that costs US$500,000 and they might sit next to some guy who's made an ad for US$10,000 and it looks like rubbish and it's as if they're not in good company. So we want to make sure that for cinema, a high quality medium, that certain quality standards are adhered to."

Asked whether advertisers and agencies would be put off by extra costs involved in producing good quality adverts Marshall said: "That's a debateable scenario. If an advertiser has got a television commercial, they can get it on to cinema without a large expense. It is just a matter of transferring it on to 35mm, which is actually relatively cheap.

"But that's the big issue - who actually carries out the transfers? We want to make sure that it's done by proper Kodak and Dolby laboratories. A lot of people are saying they're transferring the commercials and charging a lot in fees, but they're not even properly certified."

Marshall said that although the regulations would only apply to the cinemas that Motivate Val Morgan represents, he expected other companies to follow suit.

"Once we put this into practice I'm sure that other people will follow as well. I'm sure that once our standards come into force they will have no choice other than to follow."

According to figures from the Pan Arab Research Center, spending on cinema advertising was US$10 million in the UAE last year, or just 1%.

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