Giving back: Nonprofit promotions forge a valuable connection

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We see many promotions run through our theatres, most understandably related to our movie offerings. But we also see promotions that are tied to new product releases, retail tie-ins and nonprofit fundraisers. We have covered new product releases and retail tie-ins in the past, and a recent promotion made me think about the importance of nonprofit relationships to the concession industry, and the movie industry in general.

Nonprofit organizations serve an immeasurable purpose in society, funding research and cures in the medical field, financial support to those in need, and general cultural advancement in so many ways. Partnering with nonprofit organizations is a way to give back to the communities we serve and be a part of the general social fabric, which I would argue is what keeps the cinema industry alive; social connection is vital. So finding ways to do this drives growth and operational excellence.

This happens within many facets of the theatre operation, but as it applies to the concession stand it is primarily in the form of product promotions which donate a portion of the sale to the organization. For example, for many years during the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have sold many products with the pink-ribbon symbol. A portion of the month’s sales of these products goes back to breast cancer organizations. Breast cancer research funding is highly valued by society and being a part of that makes us relevant. The product sale at that point is the vehicle for that connection, not the end goal.

A current promotion revolves around Variety—The Children’s Charity. This is an organization that our industry has supported for a very long time. The Gold Hearts fundraising program is one that many of our theatres participate in. Variety supports the wellbeing, education and advancement of disabled and disadvantaged children in many ways. It is the receiving organization of many of our golf tournaments and other fundraising events throughout the year and enjoys a special relationship with the cinema industry.

Taste of Nature, Inc. has created a Minions sour gummies product in cooperation with Variety, Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. The Minion characters have become wildly popular across the cultural landscape, originating in the Despicable Me movies. Taste of Nature will begin distributing the product in December and will donate a portion of the proceeds from every package sold in participating theatres from Jan. 1 to August 31 to Variety–The Children’s Charity, guaranteeing a minimum donation of $20,000. This is part of a larger Variety promotion of the Gold Hearts program offered at theatres, which features the Minions as the spokespersons.

“Variety believes that every child deserves a limitless future,” says Erica Lopez, executive director of Variety—The Children’s Charity of the United States. Our partnership with Taste of Nature is a delicious way to ensure we reach our goal of helping all kids reach theirs.”

Many theatres are participating in the Gold Hearts promotion and also selling the product at the concession stand. Marcus Theatres is one of the companies participating in this program. “Partnering with Variety–The Children’s Charity is an important way for Marcus Theatres to give back to children in need within the community,” says Rob Novak, director of concessions. “The upcoming initiative is selling Minions-branded candy at all of our theatres, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Variety chapter in that theatre’s state. The donation of five cents from the sale of each of these candies can truly make a difference as it helps provide the needed assistance to children with disabilities. We are truly dedicated to this cause.”

The reason why social media is so successful is the direct communication with the consumer and the level of connectivity that it creates between the consumer and the business. Engaging the consumer in promotions at the concession stand that follow this logic and engage nonprofit organization support demonstrates our involvement in their lives. The X and Y generations that are coming of age today put the interest and care in their personal lives at the top of their needs from the companies they work for, the organizations they engage, and the businesses they support. This is a simple way to give back to the community and sell product at the same time—it’s a true win-win. Dan Herrle, director of concessions at Bow Tie Cinemas, agrees: “We are very excited about combining a blockbuster film and hit candy with a charity that Bow Tie Cinemas passionately supports. Anytime we can raise per-caps and charity donations in one sale, everybody wins.”

Send your comments to Anita Watts at anitaw@reactornet.com.