Popular perception is that Christmas film releases are mainly about entertaining children. Actually, festive releases are packed full of great films for a range of audiences and include some hotly tipped releases such as W, Changeling and The Day The Earth Stood Still that are targeted at the over-18 bracket. In the current climate people are downgrading to cheaper activities such as cinema trips, so there has never been a better time for alcohol brands to engage with this fully receptive audience.

It's well known that consumers increase their alcohol purchasing around Christmas. People will sip a hot toddy before bed, make toasts with mulled wine, or leave a sherry for Father Christmas, not to mention the Christmas gift purchases. So to be the tipple of choice, brands need to be smart about how they communicate to the consumer.

A recent study carried out by Pearl & Dean showed that over a quarter of cinemagoers state they drink in the bar before or after the film. Thus, cinema bars are a perfect place to market to consumers in a receptive environment. Brands could not only sponsor a bar, but could take advantage of the foyer space or jump on the highly effective trend for experiential marketing in the cinema.

It is a great time to be thinking about in-foyer activity, but brands should also remember that on-screen advertising has fewer restrictions. The recent Cinema Advertising Association study FAME (Film Audience Measurement and Evaluation), showed a massive 85% of cinemagoers watch ads as part of the experience.

For alcohol brands, audiences can be strictly targeted by the type of film they are watching. For example, findings show cinemagoers who drink vodka say they most enjoy romantic comedies, and those that drink whiskey state they prefer action, adventure and thrillers. And of course the cinema provides an automatic age restriction provided by the BBFC 18 certificate.

With such a successful and engaging medium, coupled with the array of older demographic films due for release before Christmas, the silver screen offers drinks brands an effective route to the consumers.

Anna Cremin is research manager at Pearl & Dean.