Top Women in Global Exhibition 2019: Stacie Tursi, National CineMedia

Earlier this year, Boxoffice partnered with Celluloid Junkie to present the fourth annual list of Top Women in Global Exhibition, published in our CinemaCon issue. Throughout 2019, Boxoffice will continue to honor the women who have an immeasurable impact on the exhibition industry with a series of in-depth profiles.

Stacie Tursi, SVP, Local & Digital Sales 

Part of the National CineMedia family since 2005, Stacie Tursi was named SVP of affiliate partnerships at NCM—the largest cinema-advertising network in the U.S.—in 2016. Since then, Tursi’s team has worked diligently to serve its theater network, which comprises over 20,000 screens in the U.S. In 2018, NCM announced the addition of 300 theaters to its network, including top regional players like Bow Tie Cinemas, Cinergy Entertainment, Megaplex Theatres, and MJR Digital Cinemas.

How has the world of in-theater marketing evolved since you joined National CineMedia? How do you see it evolving in the coming years?

It’s funny; when I look back over the last 20 years, the pitch hasn’t really changed. We have the best content, reach, and engagement there is to offer for advertisers looking to reach people who love entertainment. What has changed are the size of the NCM network—which is the largest cinema network in the U.S. and, I think, the world—and our pre-show and product offerings. We started back in the day with rolling stock and slides that required manual delivery, placement, and execution. Today, NCM connects national, regional, and local brands to movie audiences in our Noovie pre-show, seen on movie screens nationwide. We also offer other forms of cinema advertising and promotions in theater lobbies. In addition, we sell online and mobile advertising through our Cinema Accelerator digital product to reach entertainment audiences beyond the theater. 

As brands, agencies, and partners look to leverage powerful location and audience data to target their audiences in the places and moments that matter most, we will continue to expand our growing NCM Digital products to go beyond the big screen, extending in-theater campaigns into online and mobile marketing programs to reach entertainment audiences. NCM now offers cool movie-related digital experiences including, the go-to digital destination for all things movies, including trailers, show times, tickets, and more; Shuffle, Noovie’s new movie trivia game that movie fans can play anytime, anywhere; Noovie ARcade, the big-screen interactive augmented-reality (AR) game; and Fantasy Movie League, the box office predictions game that combines the fierce competition of fantasy sports with the insanely popular world of entertainment and movies. It’s all about creating a community of movie fans who interact with Noovie at every step in their moviegoing journey.

What’s your favorite part of your job at NCM?

The people. They are our most important asset, and we rely on them to determine the customer experience. Building a strong organizational culture differentiates us from our competitors. Our people, vision, and values are our unique identifiers.

I like to identify and develop talent early in people’s careers, helping to broaden skills by providing access to operating roles and leadership opportunities, both horizontal and vertical moves, in core business functions. 

If our people are happy, then our customers are happy. It’s really that simple. 

Can you describe an early moviegoing experience? What made it so memorable for you?

In the summer of 1969, my mother took me to see my very first film, Bambi. I remember the popcorn and soft drink (a rare treat), finding our seats, waiting in anticipation for the film to start, the lights dimming, and the thrill of having time with my mother. While I can recall every bit of the experience like it was yesterday, what made it so memorable was when Bambi’s life was touched by tragedy. It was the first time I saw my mother cry.

Can you talk a bit about some of the mentors you’ve had in this business?

It’s a long list. I learn every day from people both inside and outside the industry. I look for people who are willing to break from formal roles and titles and are, instead, willing to build common ground as people. Having mentors (both formal and informal) has helped me to shape my character, values, self-awareness, empathy, and capacity for respect. 

What is your proudest achievement of your time so far at NCM?

Generally, I’m most proud of keeping people moving in the right direction. My role, as I see it, is to align people to strategy, vision, and values and prepare the organization for change. Watching people grow and evolve is what keeps me motivated.

Specifically, I am most proud of NCM being included in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index, the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBTQ employees. It’s important to me that we have a sense of purpose and believe that the company has a positive impact on our employees, community, and the world at large.

I am proud to be a part of an organization where inclusion and diversity are part of our strategy, and one that looks for ways to support all of its employees. 

How would you evaluate the progress women have made in the exhibition business in the past few years?

I think we’ve seen some progress, but there is no denying there is a dearth of women in senior positions in our industry. I’m happy to say that at NCM, 47 percent of our workforce is female and 48 percent of those serve at an executive or leadership level.

Ultimately, the most important factor in determining success isn’t gender, it’s you! 

What are the key accomplishments you would still like to make during your time at NCM?

I continue to focus on three things:

  1. The brains of our business: vision and strategy
  2. The bones of our business: organizational structure 
  3. The nerves of our business: culture

If we concentrate on making continuous improvements to these three areas, we will be better positioned for whatever comes our way. In the end, I hope to leave the company a little better off than I found it.

What advice would you give to women just entering the movie exhibition business?

If a job description focuses only on title, experience, and responsibilities, it may not speak to the heart of what motivates you. Look for roles (or invent roles) that leverage your skills in a way that makes a difference by adding value to the business through advancing something that both the employees and customers benefit from. 

It’s critical to get comfortable in your own skin. Be willing to take risks. And don’t be afraid to self-promote!

Describe your ideal moviegoing experience.

We all know that the moviegoing experience starts long before we get to the theater. The ideal experience for me starts with buying tickets, selecting seats, ordering (healthy) concessions, and arranging a round-trip Lyft, all in one online/mobile transaction. The Lyft gets me to the theater 20 to 30 minutes prior to published show time. Concessions are delivered to my seat while I play Noovie ARcade and Noovie Shuffle movie trivia, where I earn points and rewards for game play and purchases. 

The theater, of course, is clean, comfortable, and staffed with people who care about my experience. And the movie is one that everyone has been talking about and that I’ve been dying to see—one of Hollywood’s best of the year.

After the film, I can redeem my points/rewards at the theater to purchase film-related and Noovie goods. I’m able to save my choices to my profile for future purchases. 

My Lyft arrives 20 to 30 minutes after the movie ends, and I head home happy and entertained. While I’m in the car, I get new film-release notifications and special offers to start planning my next trip to the movies!

That, I believe, is the future of moviegoing. We’re working hard at NCM and with our exhibitor partners to build that future.

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