retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The CEO of the AMC Theater chain Adam Aron, learned the hard way the other day that while it is perfectly acceptable to entertain new approaches to consumer satisfaction, one has to be careful about how and when and where ... because social media provides a forum in which people who disagree with you can make their opinions known, loudly and clearly.

Last week, he gave an interview to Variety in which he said that, "in a bid to attract younger, smartphone savvy consumers ... he was open to making some theaters texting and mobile device-friendly."

Here's what Aron said: "When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don’t ruin the movie, they hear please cut off your left arm above the elbow. You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That’s not how they live their life. At the same time, though, we’re going to have to figure out a way to do it that doesn’t disturb today’s audiences. There’s a reason there are ads up there saying turn off your phone, because today’s moviegoer doesn’t want somebody sitting next to them texting or having their phone on."

Asked if theaters could have special "texting" sections, he replied, "That’s one possibility. What may be more likely is we take specific auditoriums and make them more texting friendly."

The Chicago Tribune reports that no sooner had those comments been posted online than social media erupted - and not in a good way.

Here's the statement released by AMC: "In this age of social media, we get feedback from you almost instantaneously and as such, we are constantly listening. Accordingly, just as instantaneously, this is an idea that we have relegated to the cutting room floor. With your advice in hand, there will be NO TEXTING ALLOWED in any of the auditoriums at AMC Theatres. Not today, not tomorrow and not in the foreseeable future."

It was, to be sure, an Eye-Opener about doing business in 2016.
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