South Asian films a hit for AMC

So there you are, in the lobby of your friendly neighbourhood suburban multiplex on a Saturday night. What should you see? Supernova? Magnolia? Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo? Or the 9:40 showing of Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani? Toronto-based AMC Theatres of...

So there you are, in the lobby of your friendly neighbourhood suburban multiplex on a Saturday night. What should you see? Supernova? Magnolia? Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo? Or the 9:40 showing of Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani?

Toronto-based AMC Theatres of Canada is the first of this country’s major cinema chains to regularly screen movies targeted specifically to an ethnic Canadian community. The lineup at several of the company’s suburban Toronto facilities now routinely includes at least one South Asian feature film, alongside the usual array of Hollywood product.

There is a significant South Asian population in the areas where these multiplexes are located, explains Larry Whittenberger, AMC’s operations manager for Canada. And the AMC Theatres organization – which is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. – does attempt, where possible, to tailor its offerings according to the demographic makeup of the local market.

‘We decided to try [running South Asian films] on an experimental basis,’ Whittenberger says, ‘and thus far it has worked out very well. It’s not really rocket science. It’s just looking at your customers and trying to offer them films they’d like to see. It’s basic marketing.’

‘They’ve recognized the impact of being reflective of their market,’ says Melanie Farrell, director, business development language sales with Toronto-based multicultural broadcaster CFMT-TV, who first heard about the phenomenon when her daughter returned from a visit to the AMC Interchange 30 north of Toronto and reported seeing young South Asian Canadians lined up more than two hours in advance for a late screening. ‘That’s just very smart.’

Whittenberger, for his part, says the decision was prompted in part by suggestions from a prominent local South Asian entrepreneur. He’s cagey when asked to reveal the name, but does acknowledge that this individual has provided invaluable assistance in selecting appropriate feature films, and in spreading the word to the community.

All of the features presented so far have been in Hindi. Where possible, the company attempts to get subtitled prints – the better to appeal to younger viewers who may be more fluent in English than in their mother tongue.

AMC has somewhat greater scope to present more specialized offerings than its competitors, Whittenberger adds, because its locations generally have a larger number of screens. Its suburban Toronto multiplexes, for example, boast 20-30 each.

Given its success so far with South Asian films, the company could well begin to look at offerings for other cultural groups in the near future, Whittenberger says.

AMC Theatres began its expansion into Canada in late 1998. The company now operates four multiplexes in the Toronto area, and another in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata.

Also in this report:

- Marketers overlooking youth audience: Youth ethnic Canadians retain strong ties to their cultures: So why don’t more advertisers target them in their own media? p.29

- Face of Chinese market is changing p.30

- Telelatino tires more mainstream fare: Hopes to build advertiser base with subtitled movies, music videos p.33

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.