Cinema as it should be!

JamJar is a dynamic, fast growing community cinema and social enterprise, the brainchild of film enthusiast and entrepreneur Dan Ellis. A cinema that lies at the very heart of its Whitley Bay community, offering a warm welcome and friendly environment to locals and visitors alike, with a relaxed and inviting lounge bar and an intimate but state-of-the-art cinema, JamJar is an environment in which every audience member is made to feel valued and at home. 

Jam Jar Cinema and Lounge Bar Guidelines.
We helped Jam Jar Cinema's annual audience grew from 5,000 to 50,000! …not bad for a single 50 seat cinema!

It’s fair to say that JamJar is not your typical cinema, and the JamJar experience is certainly not your typical 21st century cinema experience, there are no overpriced hotdogs or nachos, in fact, it’s as far away as it’s possible to get from the faceless, corporate multiplex. But Dan wanted more, and when he felt ready to embark on the next phase of his ambitious plan – a new brand that truly reflected this difference, embodied his vision and philosophy and would help him realise is ambitions for expanding his JamJar empire – he got in touch with Guerilla.

Jam Jar Cinema and Lounge
Jam Jar Cinema brand posters

Interesting challenge…

So why JamJar? That was our first question too, turns out that the name originates from the not so distant past, when you’d be able to get into your local cinema cheaper, or even for free, on production of a Jam Jar! A practice that, having originated in North Tyneside, took hold in cinemas all over the country, typically in areas of widespread deprivation and heavy industry, such as Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Glasgow (where it was known as J’eely Jar Cinema), and was common as recently as the 1970’s.

Of course, cinemas were far more widespread then, at one point Whitley Bay –  the home of JamJar Cinema, had five cinemas, and a further seven could be found in nearby North Shields. But by the time Dan Ellis began working on his vision for JamJar Cinema in the spring of 2011, there had been no truly independent local community cinemas in North Tyneside for many years.

Jam Jar Cinema Programme

He noticed that people in his local community wanted to go to the cinema but couldn’t afford the cost to travelling to the closest cinema over seven miles away. With his vision taking shape – Dan found old premises in the centre of Whitley Bay and with the help of over 80 volunteers, converted the building into a fully functioning cinema including a cafe and a 50 seat state-of-the-art theatre – opening its doors for the first time in September 2013 – a truly independent community cinema, run by, with and for local people in North Tyneside.

By early 2017, with his cinema up and running, Dan was ready to take his vision to the next level – making the JamJar experience accessible to even more cinema goers with an ambitious programme of expansion. Jam Jar Cinema is entirely charitable and all profits are reinvested into education activities and community initiatives – so funding this expansion would rely heavily on securing grants – and to get grants he needed national recognition and awards. 

To help him achieve all of this – Dan needed a way to be able to communicate his unique JamJar philosophy, articulate his vision and demonstrate the JamJar difference quickly and effectively to a much bigger audience – JamJar needed a brand!

Clear thinking…

Guerilla Creative Director Geoff Foots takes up the story, “We set out initially to understand and identify the essence of JamJar using competitor analysis and research tools to help us, but after a few face-to-face meetings, it became increasingly obvious that the answer was literally sitting right in front of us – it was Dan – he was the brand.

The real challenge then became to create a brand identity that embodied Dan’s vision, his passionate belief in inclusivity and accessibility, his infectious enthusiasm, his unconventional approach, his energy, personality, love of film and his belief in cinema as a powerful force for social inclusion.”

Jam Jar Cinema and Lounge Bar

Most importantly, we wanted to create a brand on which Dan could build, that would grow and evolve with him and would be instrumental in helping to realise his ambitions for JamJar Cinema.

We began by constructing a solid platform on which to build our brand identity – starting with a powerful statement of intent, “Boldness of purpose, contemporary relevance and ambition to challenge and question the boundaries of

community cinema are at the heart of everything we do.”

We worked closely with Dan on finally articulating his vision for JamJar… “cinema that engages, cinema that informs, cinema that challenges, cinema that unites, cinema that inspires, cinema that rewards, cinema that excites, cinema that delights, cinema that gives, cinema that broadens horizons, cinema that changes perceptions, cinema at the very heart of our community… cinema as it should be.

Jam Jar Cinema and Lounge

Then we set about identifying the key values – the pillars that JamJar is built on, these would form the solid foundations for our brand, after all, identities can evolve and change over time – but fundamental beliefs remain constant.

JamJar is different… JamJar is local… JamJar is affordable… JamJar is inclusive… JamJar is diverse.

The striking new brand identity reflects the diverse nature of the JamJar offering and their audience. It celebrates diversity, variety and inclusion. It’s intimate, friendly, distinctive and quirky – unique, eccentric, adventurous, inclusive, joyful and with the new brand launch coinciding with the reopening of a rebranded and luxuriously refurbished JamJar Cinema and Lounge Bar – most importantly, it’s lots of fun!

Jam Jar Cinema and Lounge
Jam Jar Cinema and Lounge
“I was absolutely thrilled with the brand identity that Guerilla created for JamJar Cinema, they really understood our philosophy and what I was trying to achieve with it and it’s been a huge hit with everyone! I really do feel that our brand has been instrumental in our success.”

Real results…

Where do we begin? Since our brand launched in August 2017 JamJar has gone from strength to strength (including a BAFTA award!)…

Jam Jar Cinema and Lounge
JamJar now screens more than 1,500 showings a year from over 200 films!
Jam Jar Cinema business cards
JamJar has held and promoted fund-raising events which have helped raise more than £80,000 for local good causes
Jam Jar Cinema website.
Jam Jar won 'the For the Love of Film' BAFTA at 2019's prestigious ceremony!

True to his ethos, Dan is ensuring that it is the people of his local community that benefit from all this success, from September 2019 JamJar introduced ‘pay as you please’, the first scheme of its kind in the UK allowing cinema goers to choose how much they payed, making a trip to the pictures affordable for even more people!

“A choice of prices will benefit so many locals – it might be a while until payday, or perhaps you have no payday coming – but that shouldn’t stop you from coming to the pictures and enjoying some escapism for a while. We’re really excited to be in a position where we can make cinema so accessible to even more people.”

Where proud of our association with JamJar Cinema, and of being instrumental in a genuine North East success story!

“Once we finish the expansion at our current site, we’re actively looking for other towns across the region to invest in. We have a shortlist of three and are aiming to open another site by Spring 2021.”
Dan Ellis, Owner
Jam Jar Cinema menu
Jam Jar Cinema flyers
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