Cinemarketing: James Meredith taps into a network of media assets to reach moviegoers


“At Cinemark, we have developed many tools and methods to communicate with our customers,” says James Meredith, the circuit’s VP and head of marketing and communications. Highlighting the clear focus in his work, Meredith also calls these customers guests, moviegoers and lovers of entertainment. “We create and operate state-of-the-art movie theatres that are recognized as entertainment destinations by our guests. They come to escape for a few hours and to enjoy quality entertainment.”

For our continuing focus on “Cinemarketing”, Meredith graciously agreed to share some of those strategies that he and his team are deploying at the world’s third-largest exhibitor, with 467 theatres and 5,259 screens. “As marketers, we have developed a network of media assets—in-theatre and out of theatre, both traditional and digital—that enables us to communicate directly with our customer audience according to their demographics.” The growth of digital media, in particular, has helped Cinemark “to target our customers and provide them with information that they are interested in. It’s very exciting… Digital media plays a big role in how we communicate and connect with our guests. Whether through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linked In and Pinterest; whether online with our websites and e-mailers; or through our apps and mobile technologies,” he assures, “the main goal is to communicate directly with our guests through the mediums they choose to engage.”

In accomplishing that mission, Meredith counts on creating “direct lines of communications that connect with the customer” and, internally, on a departmental structure based on focus and specialization. “The different areas cover Marketing & Promotions, PR/Communications, Branding & Advertising, Digital Media (includes social, online and mobile media), Business Development, Corporate Social Responsibility and Event Planning.” Overall, he sees his primary responsibility as “identifying and creating programs and opportunities that add value and grow our business.” Secondly, it is crucial to be “developing and establishing our brands in the minds of the public,” he adds. “We strive to reach our guests and reinforce the message that spending a few hours each week in Cinemark’s theatres is a great way to invest their entertainment dollars and their free time.”

Cinemark offers various levels of entertainment, and Meredith provides some examples. “In giving them very highest-quality entertainment in the industry, we pride ourselves on offering our guests many choices. Our moviegoers can customize the experience according to their likes.” Meredith says this goes from presentation (2D, 3D and Cinemark XD, the circuit’s premium large format), to food and beverage options (cafeteria-style concession stand, special offerings, and opening August 30 in Edinburg, Texas, the first Cinemark Movie Bistro), to content (Metropolitan Opera, concerts, sporting events, independent/art films, classic movies etc.). “I spend a great deal of time in our theatres and truly enjoy watching the expressions on the faces of our guests as they engage at the theatre.”

And it was that very engagement which attracted Meredith to theatrical exhibition in the first place. “Since a very young age, I was always interested in working in the entertainment industry,” he recounts. “My first movie was Star Wars. I was raised in New York, on Long Island, and visited our local single-screen neighborhood theatre all the time. I watched Star Wars every weekend, more than ten times in the theatre, until I could almost recite all of the lines and my parents finally decided that was enough.” Moving along, Meredith’s favorite films of which “there are so many,” have since included Jaws, GoodFellas, The Shawshank Redemption, Blazing Saddles, Caddyshack, Titanic (“The ship sinking…will always be a standout”), Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and more.

“One of my favorite memories was watching Act of Valor at our West Plano theatre with a group of Navy SEALs. They are truly incredible people who sacrifice a great deal for us and our country. It was an amazing experience.”

As a self-titled “traditionalist” in snacking, “hot buttered Cinemark popcorn with an ice-cold Diet Coke” is an integral part of that experience. Generally speaking, “a good night out at the movies [has been spent] when a customer is able to enjoy an all-around great entertainment experience at a Cinemark theatre,” he assures. “We focus on all areas of the experience, from buying tickets to providing great-tasting food options, to incorporating the latest technology options so our guests can enjoy the experience their way in the format that they choose, to providing top-notch customer service.” All this is leading up to his favorite part: “the moment of anticipation right before the show begins.”

If we all do our jobs, the excitement surely continues. “I love the way our industry impacts our culture. From magazines to clothing styles, buzz words and fads.” (Meredith mentions “the increasing popularity of Pinots after Sideways.”) “Every Monday morning,” he continues, “the media reports on the level of business that a particular movie achieved over the weekend and whether it met expectations. There is a deep-rooted love for entertainment in our culture.”

Having joined Cinemark in 1995 to head up the circuit’s international marketing efforts throughout Latin America and in Taiwan (before taking on the U.S. marketing department six years ago), Meredith is speaking about multiple cultures. “I have been very fortunate to conduct business inside and outside the U.S. I believe that this knowledge and experience have enabled me to bring a well-rounded and global perspective to our company,” he says. “Now, when I develop strategies, branding initiatives or advertising campaigns for Cinemark, I consider how the program will work and be perceived in the U.S. as well as in other countries.”

Of the many activities that Cinemark has launched, which one does he view as a personal favorite? “There have been so many,” he contends about the evolution of Cinemark into “one of the top entertainment companies in our industry.” In the process of “putting strategies and campaigns in place to help launch some of our sub-brands and state-of-the-art experiences like NextGen and seeing the impact that Cinemark XD has had around the world,” he also enjoyed “developing the strategy for repositioning our brand through our latest campaign of ‘Cinemark is my theatre for…’ Also, developing our digital media network has been very rewarding, as now we have the ability to create direct relationships with our customers. CineMode is another great product I’ve enjoyed launching.” (For more on the latter, see our May 2013 edition.)

Another personal privilege for Meredith has been working alongside “some of the industry’s most influential people, like Lee Roy Mitchell and Tim Warner,” Cinemark’s chairman of the board and president/chief executive officer, respectively. “They are true pioneers in our industry and I have been very fortunate to learn from them. Most of all, I’ve enjoyed playing a key role in the growth of our company. Cinemark is one of the world’s largest motion picture exhibitors and we pride ourselves on always being out in front and leading our industry.”

Part of the lead position is analyzing trends and acting accordingly. In closing, James Meredith makes a point of sharing the trend lines. “The key point is that these days, we as a society are fairly limited with our free time. There are many entertainment options. My role here at Cinemark is key, as my department is able to communicate with our customers and encourage them to visit our theatres more often. Going to the movies is a very important part of our culture and represents who we are,” he reassures our readers. “I am always mindful of our customers, as they are our number-one focus. We all have a responsibility to make sure we create the best entertainment experience in the industry, so our customers have a great time and continue to choose to enjoy movies and entertainment at Cinemark.”