RealD’s Real Opporunity

REALD_LogoLast week, I wrote a post about Coraline in 3D. Well, I mean the post wasn’t in 3D, but the movie was. Anyway, while thinking back on the experience there was one last topic I couldn’t leave without discussing–RealD’s branding opportunities.

Why wasn’t Coraline in 3D advertised as “Coraline in RealD?”
I would understand if RealD were new on the scene, but they have been gaining momentum as cinema’s 3D system of choice for the past 4 years. Starting in 2005 with Chicken Little, it was used again and again for films. It even counted for  nearly 1/3 of US movie sales for Beowulf in 2007. Now it’s 2009 and only more movies have used the technology since then. It couldn’t be a fear of confusing the public. By now, people could, and would, easily make the connection that RealD is 3D technology. And, even if they didn’t, it would only pique their interest and make them explore further, perhaps even getting to know the company better. Yet RealD seems to have decided against this. 

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and never overlook a branding opportunity because it appears small. I know RealD’s business may seem more related to B2B function (film production and virtual tours for brand specific companies), but there’s a major consumer element here which is worth investment.

Alright, for now everything is cozy and they stand alone at the top of their league in cinema, but you never know who will enter the market. Someone could always arrive with a new piece of technology readied to overthrow you, meaning you can never become too comfortable at the top. Unless there are exclusive contracts with film studios, when the future presents movie-goers an option between RealD and a competitor for the same movie–RealD should want them to choose their brand without hesitation. That’s one scenario where earlier branding is key, and every bit, no matter how small, counts.

Okay, you might be saying, “Dylan, that’s stretching it a bit, don’t you think? A hostile 3D cinema coup is pretty rare.” I’ll somewhat concede to that point, reader who thinks I’m nuts, but what about this opportunity.

horsesI personally contributed to that 1/3 of US sales who watched Beowulf in 3D and later, when I watched it on DVD, it wasn’t the same. I’ll never be able to replicate that experience I had in the theatre and that really sucks. Yes, this adds incentive to see it in 3D while it lasts in theaters, but that still leaves me (the consumer) wanting that experience when I get the DVD–there must be market potential for 3D home viewing. In fact, there is. RealD has already noticed this and put a listing on their site that they’re in development for this consumer technology.

RealD wants to enter my home with their technology (for movies and TV) and I approve. But, let’s consider this scenario now. What if some other company has skipped the movie industry battle and decided to focus solely on home viewing? RealD would then face some real competition and the small branding opportunity we discussed would play a very real role in who gets picked. The name RealD means something to the film industry, but, if expansion is the eventual goal, it’s time to make it mean something to the consumer. And, not just anything, but the right thing.

3dGlasses512No, no, no, no not that kind of 3D
Maybe the early makings of brand loyalty aren’t convincing enough, but brand perception should be. Movies promoted in RealD would also benefit the brand on another front–creating a distinction from 3D’s undesirable side. Many hesitate to see a movie in 3D because they are reminded of our grandpa’s red and blue cardboard specs and the nausea-inducing “3D gags/gimmicks” which followed on screen. RealD isn’t like the old 3D at all and they should be proud of that fact.

This movie isn’t in 3D, it’s in RealD–that statement creates a distinction from the old 3D while giving the brand ownership over a cutting-edge 3D technology. It generates a discussion because “What’s RealD?” becomes the next logical question to that bolded statement and then the opportunity is to create a conversation with the consumer (marketing, SEO optimization, information provision, etc). If RealD is to continue at the top and expand its business across categories, they cannot take the little things for granted. They have to get us wanting to experience movies and television not in 3D, but in RealD.

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