Cinema Advertising: Interview with NCM CEO Andy England

What are your first impressions in taking over this new challenge?

I think it’s great. Oftentimes what happens is that CEOs get hired because something is wrong, and the challenge is “fix it.” There is nothing wrong at NCM, so let’s start there. [Former CEO] Kurt Hall did a great job in building it, and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to run this business. The fact that the business did so well in 2015 is indicative of how well positioned cinema advertising is within the broader media space.

This was the first year NCM sponsored CinemaCon. What did you think of the event?

Candidly, that’s a decision that was made before I showed up. But it was a good decision and I’m happy to endorse it. I think CinemaCon is a great opportunity to show up and meet people, and that’s what I did that week. I met with affiliates, investors, bankers, some of our marketing partners, and family circuits. It’s a great event to bring everyone together.

How much of a learning curve is there coming into the exhibition industry from your previous role as chief marketing officer at MillerCoors?

There’s certainly a learning curve. But to be honest, it’s surprisingly familiar to me. I was the chief marketing officer and head of strategy for MillerCoors, and both those roles I think are relevant to this one. As a marketer, I had a budget of over $1 billion, and we spent over $400 million of that on media, which coincidentally is about the revenue that we do at NCM. When you spend that kind of money on media, you spend a lot of time thinking about and speaking about people in the industry and getting a sense of where things are going. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about these topics for years before showing up to the media business now. Thinking about the strategic challenges and opportunities that we face feels like a very familiar exercise. How do we take this beautiful niche the we have and make it bigger and stronger? It is remarkable to me how similar it is to the idea of what was essentially a joint venture that went public in 2007. MillerCoors was a joint venture between two global boards. I’ve sat and presented in board meetings where you have three competitors sitting around the table along with independent co-directors—that’s very familiar to me. If you look at family circuits and affiliates, that’s very similar to the relationships Coors had with distributors. It was interesting to me when I showed up to our headquarters at Centennial, Colorado, just how similar it is to the old Coors headquarters in Golden. I don’t know when those buildings were built, but it felt like they were from the same person in the same year. The nature of Colorado also gives both companies a similar culture. It’s different, obviously. I had done business with the studios in the past, but this is fundamentally different. Now I’m on the selling side instead of the buying side, but fortunately I’m not someone who damaged relationships in the past, so I have a few situations where I was a client to people who are now our customers.

What is it about the job that got you excited about stepping into this role?

What we do is connect marketers with moviegoers, and the biggest way in which we do that is through our presentation before the movie. We are looking at expanding that into the lobbies and digital media. That’s a fun thing to be doing. I’m excited to do more, and I think data is going to be the key to that. Being smarter about who you’re targeting, where you’re targeting them, and with what message and how well thought out it is.

Were there any factors you kept a close eye on when first starting the job?

When you take over a business that’s being run—and run well—by someone else for a long period of time, job number one is simply, don’t screw it up. Just manage the transition. I’m very fortunate in inheriting a terrific team.

Now that you’ve had time to get acclimated in the job, what’s the next step for NCM?

I’ve had the opportunity to go to Knoxville, Kansas, and Plano getting to know some of our family circuits better. I’ve spent time with board members, agencies, advertisers, affiliates, and other media companies. I’ve got a good sense of what our strengths and opportunities are. Working through our strategy through the next quarter so we have it aligned with our board and throughout the industry, that’s the next part of the mission.

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