Grocery brands are deserting the small screen for the silver screen, with advertising spending at cinemas up 73% this year. While year-on-year advertising revenues for television sank by £35m in the first half of 2008, cinema was up £14m , according to latest figures from Carlton Screen Advertising, the cinema advertising agency.

Since January, Unilever, with its raft of brands, has spent £7.4m on big screen adverts – an increase of 154% on last year. Ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s spend soared 308% to £1.1m, while Kellogg’s has upped its spend 778% to £3.9m. The cereal company recently chose Sex and the City to launch its new Special K Oats & Honey to a captive – and predominantly female – audience.

“One of the advantages of cinema is you can combine advertising before the movie alongside sampling,” said Chris Thomas, senior brand manager at Special K. “You get a double hit. The Oats & Honey launch was very successful and outperformed our expectations,” he added.

The reason for the heightened confidence in cinema as an advertising medium was due to larger cinema audiences, according to Carlton. Kate Waddell, brand analyst at Dragon, added that consumers were more ­susceptible to advertising in a cinema than in a sitting room.

“In a world of Sky Plus where consumers can elect to edit out ad breaks from their viewing and where people have televisions on just for background noise, the cinema is probably one of the best environments to really get your message across,” said Waddell.