Cineworld “Bring a Friend” Unlimited Screening (and Unlimited Marketing Strategy in General.)

This week Cineworld home of the ” Unlimited Card” that has been adopted in some form by other UK cinema chains announced that they were going to open up one of their Unlimited cardholder preview screenings to a wider audience by allowing members who attend the screening to bring a friend along with them using a unique booking code sent to them via email. Well this is a fantastic idea in concept perhaps you might have picked a better film to test it out on the terribly reviewed US comedy Like a Boss (NSFW trailer below.)

Terrible trailers, 4.1 on IMDb and 32 on Metacritic suggests the type of film I would not want to subject any of my friends to even if it was free. What the marketing team don’t seem to understand is that the prospect of a night out at the cinema is still a time investment even if you were able to get in for free. If a proportion of the audience doesn’t like the film they are being shown (as I suspect will happen with a film like this) Cineworld can just turn around and go “It was free. You’ve got nothing to complain about.”
This brings us onto to discussion of Cineworlds Unlimited marketing strategy generally. Many of the non cinema related perks have been the same for years (” discount” on overpriced snacks, deals at chain restaurants among other things) but they have been aggressively pushing the Unlimited preview screenings for the past 2 years. I remember when they these used to be events. While I enjoy getting to see films well in advance, with multiple preview screenings a week on some occasions there can be Fridays where you look at the new releases and realise there may be only one or two things to see during the week as you saw the other new releases at the Unlimited screening for that particular film.
This takes us back to Like a Boss. Thanks to employing this aggressive marketing strategy Cineworld now know that they can put virtually anything on as a preview screening and get positive social media reactions with their ” how was the film” tweet that goes up after each screening. They can then spin this into positive press for the film regardless of whether it’s the latest award contender (JoJo Rabbit, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,) a dreadful chick flick (What Men Want or the embarrassingly dated John Cena family comedy Playing With Fire. All of these were Unlimited preview screenings that took place in the past year. Cineworld won’t care if 80% of the audience thinks Like a Boss is insufferable if the 20% who used their code take their friends along react positively on social media the screaming will have done its job. This is a very sad state of affairs in the film marketing world.
The Like a Boss “bring a friend” Unlimited previews take place at Cineworld sites nationwide on Monday 20th January

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