Throw in some “What if…” blue sky thinking, a good dollop of youth and passion and Cinevation was born. It was 1997 and cinemas were 35mm which meant advertising took months to produce and was so expensive that it was reserved only for the big guys. Over a glass of wine, Torrani and Bailey decided to bring the cinema medium together with innovative creative ideas and quick turnaround production and create a brand new advertising market for cinema.


“With the demise of cigarette advertising, we knew a lot of inventory was going to be freed up. I had investigated many cutting edge technical tricks to circumvent the production quality problem of taking Betacam up to 35mm. With that development a whole new world opened to advertisers. We drastically shortened the production lead times and developed a basket of innovative opportunities for clients eager to access cinema audiences” says Torrani. “Clients suddenly had exciting new options like branded content, sponsored entertainment snippets, quizzes, or bespoke longform inserts to choose from. Innovations that had never been done before in cinema and clients were loving it”


Torrani and Bailey then took these new content ideas and presented them to great acclaim to the Screen Advertising Worldwide Association (SAWA) in Cannes the following year. The world of cinema advertising had changed and Cinevation was buzzing with the excitement of creating new and innovative opportunities for their clients. As technology evolved and grew, so did the opportunities. Nothing was deemed impossible, including live broadcasting game drives from Djuma Game Reserve directly into cinema theatres during the ad reel. Further innovations included having the audience converse with a responsive animation character on screen, placing “smoking hot ” cinema seats to promote a fiery chilli sauce and building sensor-activated talking characters in cinema tunnels.


In 2005, the Nu Metro cinema circuit broke away from their previous sales house and approached Cinevation to set up and manage their new sales company, Popcorn Cinema Advertising Sales. Cinevation did this with great success, bringing their entrepreneurial skills to bear, and they quickly went on to become a significant and highly respected player in the cinema advertising sales arena.


Local and global innovation awards
For nearly 25 years, Cinevation has remained a visionary organisation, its pioneering ideas winning multiple local and international awards for media innovation and efficacy including 5 Cannes media lions.

“We drove a van into cinemas to promote courier company FedEx’s payoff, ‘Whatever it takes’,” says Bailey. “We dropped the temperature in cinemas to almost freezing to promote a winter charity drive for the Salvation Army. UV light in the cinema had audiences laughing as their teeth stood out in a campaign for Dirol teeth whitening gum. We also created an immersive wind blowing cinematic experience for the launch of an Audi convertible before 4DX was invented and we launched Xbox “Need for Speed“ with the world’s first live gaming cinema advert.”


Diversifying for growth
After spotting another gap in the market – this time for a specialist entertainment agency – they added additional specialist entertainment divisions – theatre, books, music artist management, film studios marketing, gaming and casinos.

In keeping with their previous track record, Cinevation continued to innovate and win awards for projects such as staging live storytelling performance ads with Gcina Mhlophe in theatres to promote Nelson Mandela Square, and building an experiential Harry Potter event for the launch of the book for Exclusive Books that won the Finweek “ Ad event of the year”


Bridging out into other spaces and with no limits to their imagination, Torrani and Bailey also designed and built Skoobs Theatre of Books, a groundbreaking and highly acclaimed experiential bookshop. The first of its kind bookshop wowed everyone with its champagne bar with baby grand piano, giant fish tank with sea-themed books, origami birds aflutter in the coffee shop and giant animal-themed books shelves with slides for the kids. More recently, they designed and rolled out the Forest of Lights, a spectacular, light show set in the forests of the Cascades hotel at Sun City Resort.


Always looking to grow the scope of their entertainment business, Cinevation has recently added another string to their bow in the form of international streaming services, BritBox (created by BBC and ITV) and CBS. It’s going to be interesting to watch what’s next from this creative duo.

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