03 November 2006

Scotiabank-Branded Cineplex Cinemas

The Globe and Mail, Shirley Won, 3 November 2006

Royal Bank of Canada has its name in lights with the RBC Center, home to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Bank of Montreal will soon slap its brand on Toronto's new National Soccer Stadium.

But Bank of Nova Scotia has trumped its peers in an unprecedented deal with Canada's largest movie chain to hang the Scotiabank name on five flagship Cineplex cinemas starting next year.

The deal will give the bank access to the lucrative youth market and counter encroachment by retailers, such as Loblaws, into the banking business.

"This is much more than a sign on a building," John Doig, senior vice-president of domestic banking at Scotiabank, said yesterday. "It will drive great brand recognition for us and translate into fantastic business opportunities."

The naming rights deal is also tied to a joint loyalty card program that will extend to all 132 Cineplex theatres. The plan will enable Scotiabank customers and moviegoers to earn points for rewards, such as free movies and popcorn.

"It's really the first entertainment loyalty program in Canada," Cineplex chief executive officer Ellis Jacob said. "They have over 900 branches and six million customers, and we have 60 million people coming through our doors. The combination of all of those makes for a very attractive program."

Neither party would disclose details of the partnership. It comes on the heels of Scotiabank's $20-million naming rights deal in January for the former Corel Centre in Ottawa. The Ottawa Senators' home is now called Scotiabank Place.

Mr. Jacob said the loyalty program will be an important way to learn about its movie-going customers.

"That will allow us and Scotiabank the ability to communicate with these loyalty customers and send e-mails with information on promotions," Mr. Jacob said.

The deal was announced yesterday as Toronto-based Cineplex Entertainment LP, the operating company of the Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund, reported record third-quarter profit and revenue. The stellar results were fuelled by last year's $500-million acquisition of the Famous Players chain, and a popular lineup of summer movies.

Last February, Cineplex, whose brands include Cineplex Odeon, Galaxy and Silver City, went hunting for a company to buy the naming rights for its four Paramount-branded cinemas acquired from Famous Players.

Negotiations with landlords are ongoing, but the five Scotiabank-branded Cineplex cinemas are expected to include the Paramount theatres located in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.

Scotiabank will be advertising its products in Cineplex lobbies. The agreement also includes installing automated banking machines in the five flagship theatres.

Rick White, vice-president of brand and marketing programs at Scotiabank, said the bank's deal is aimed at younger customers, who are the dominant moviegoers.

"The 18- to 30 year-olds are the sweet spot in this program," Mr. White said. "There is a very captive audience inside the theatres so it makes for a great opportunity to express our brand, bring messages to the audiences on the screen [before shows] and relate to them in a way that we have never done before."

Ken Wong, who teaches marketing at Queen's School of Business, said Scotiabank's play for youth makes sense. "If the youth take their credit card with you, they will stay with you for the remainder of their lives," Mr. Wong said.