Kathryn Jacob OBE
0 4 mins 11 mths

Celebrating its own 70th anniversary along with Cannes Lions, SAWA, the Global Cinema Advertising Association, put the focus on the big screen in a Cannes Lions panel discussion that delved into the art and science of creativity in cinema.

Kathryn Jacob OBE
Size Matters! (L-R) Kathryn Jacob OBE, Ukonwa Ojo, Mike Follett, Jelle Demanet

Reminding us that “size matters” the seminar examined the latest scientific research and explored how brands can get the most out of major theatrical movie releases and utilise the immersive big-screen experience. Addressing questions about the future, SAWA president, Kathryn Jacob OBE, said the recovery post-COVID had been remarkable. “Filmmakers are still deeply connected to cinema release and three films released post-COVID have entered the global top 10, she said. We’ve had billion-dollar commitments from platforms that people thought were going to threaten cinema – Amazon, Netflix and Apple have all re-emphasised how important theatrical release is going to be for content strategy.”

Ukonwa Ojo, former global chief marketing officer and US general manager of Amazon Prime Video & Studios, and founder and CEO at Zaia Ventures, stressed how audiences like to both stream at home and go to the cinema. “That’s because the cinema experience plays a different role – it’s a very social experience,” she said. “You get to go to this elevated sound and picture experience. You get to go through different emotions with other people.”

Cinema is the daddy of media.

Mike Follett

Not to mention of course that in order to qualify for Oscars and BAFTA, the film has to have cinema release in the country. “It’s incremental awareness,” says Ojo. “Whenever you have the shared experience together in a cinema, and all of the pomp and circumstance around it, prior to the streaming release of that movie, there’s a lot of conversation. This conversation elevates the campaign.”

A key takeaway from the session was that audiences pay more attention to the message if it is on the big screen, and there’s now scientific research to show that. Mike Follett, managing director of Lumen Research, explained how new technology has been developed to measure the attention paid to the screen in seconds per thousand impressions by tracking the faces of viewers in an auditorium. The results, he said, were astounding. “This is really, really important data because we’ve had this feeling that cinema might be better than other media but now we have the data. Cinema is essentially unique. It’s the daddy of media .

Apollo8 founder Jelle Demanet, explained how faces of viewers can now also be tracked for an emotional response using technology that can detect up to 200 people’s faces in a cinema audience. “So we know at each moment what emotional expression the audience is showing. With advances in AI, emotion recognition algorithms, we can now look at how emotions change over time.” And before you throw your arms in the air with conspiratorial sigh, Ikon London Magazine spoke with Demanet after the event to address our concerns over privacy and he has assured us that his research “never focuses on individuals, only on audiences”. So, while the technological capabilities are there, it’s imperative that ‘decent’ researchers are in charge of the technology.

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Editor in Chief of Ikon London Magazine, journalist, film producer and founder of The DAFTA Film Awards (The DAFTAs).