In an election year defined by extremes, it seems that businesses may need to also know that when you try to woo one group, you upset everyone else.
That’s the lesson AMC Theatres is learning — the hard way. Less than a day after AMC Entertainment’s new CEO suggested the company may be willing to make selected theaters “texting friendly” the company received massive backlash.
The move ostensibly was meant to entice millennials to start coming back to the movies.
Silver screen attendance among this age group has fallen sharply in recent years. Between the selections available to stream online and the short wait times between “in theater” and “available to stream” many millions of younger Americans opt to either wait or skip the movie experience altogether.
Someone convinced CEO Adam Aron it would be a marvelous idea to open some theaters to texting throughout the movie experience.
In speaking to Variety Magazine, Aron said: “You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cell phone. That’s not how they live their life.”
Maybe so, but judging from the “feedback” Aron’s statement generated, he may want to rethink that idea.
The idea started innocently enough, with attempts to find a well-intentioned compromise between folks who just want to watch the movie and Millennials who, AMC thinks, can’t manage to put their phones down for a couple hours.
The idea floated would be designated auditoriums where people who wanted to text could do so without impediment, right through the movie.
Speaking through Twitter, the company said: “If ever, we only would pursue (allowing texting) in a way that we can totally be confident ALL our guests will fully enjoy the moviegoing experience at AMC.”
It looked like AMC realized their mistake and tried to walk it back, but movie buffs read right between the lines and responded in force, inundating AMC’s social media accounts
with raving objections and various threats should this decision be implemented.
Complaints included the typical rants about a “distracted, self-entitled generation”, but carried the sting of threats to go to competitive theaters, threats the company can’t take likely.
In response, AMC walked back even further, blaming “press reports” for leaking the information and saying it would only be in limited locations, if at all.
That didn’t help, so the company went a bit further, tweeting: “We know the vast majority of our audience wants no texting.”
Detractors and angry moviegoers didn’t relent, so AMC’s spokesman Ryan Noonan released a statement to the media: “Given that so many of today's moviegoers are passionate about preserving the purity of watching movies undisturbed in our theatres, there is no specific timeframe as to when we might introduce such a test, if ever . . . the overwhelming majority of our current audience does not want texting to disrupt their experience.”
Maybe they listened after all.
Ronn Torossian is one of America’s foremost Public Relations executives as founder/CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent PR Agency. The firm was honored as PR Firm of the Year by The American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 List. Torossian is author of the best-selling "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations." For more of Ronn Torossian's reports, Go Here Now.
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