The Secret Marketer is unimpressed by his visit to the cinema

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I enjoyed some quality downtime this weekend including a trip to my local cinema to see the much acclaimed The King’s Speech.

I haven’t been to the cinema for quite some time and I was disappointed to discover that the old school picture house foyer had now been replaced by a major national coffee shop which was now sponsoring a few screens out the back.

Sign of the times I guess and nothing wrong with diversification and asset utilisation as the strategists would call it. That said, there is something I found quite magical about arriving at the cinema and that sense of excitement will never be replaced by the now everyday fare of a latte served in a motorway services inspired shopfit.

Colin Firth has received huge plaudits for his role as the stammering monarch King George VI, but the stuttering service in the newly refurbished cinema was far from award winning. I began by trying to buy tickets from a self-service touchscreen machine. All was going just fine until I had to choose two tickets because the even-number buttons were hidden by the frame of the machine, meaning customers could only buy an odd number of tickets. So off we went to join the long queue of wannabe cinema goers.

Screen tickets and food are now dealt with all in one place. Only the coffee now gets its own dedicated station. This led to lengthy delays as the staff painfully grappled between pick’n’mix, popcorn and seating plans.

The pursuit of selling overpriced hot dog and bottomless Pepsi combos had completely overtaken such vital information as to which films were actually being shown, what time they started and on what screen.

“The stuttering service in the newly refurbished cinema was far from award winning”

The staff were well trained in everything other than the movies, with a script to upsell popcorn, soft drinks and loyalty scheme memberships. All I wanted was to see a film, at a cinema. Eventually the staff succumbed and agreed to sell me two tickets.

The reverse of our admission tickets contained a smart promotional offer for two pizzas for £12 at a well-know high street restaurant. Nice bit of media planning there, though the promotional T&Cs meant that I would struggle to redeem the offer on anything other than a Tuesday morning and my favourite pepperoni topping was most likely among the many exclusions. How to lose a sale from the jaws of victory.
Still, at least there was no danger of going hungry at this cinema.

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