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Target Ticket Misfires on 'Captain America' Bonus

9 Sep, 2014 By: John Latchem

I understand the appeal for content producers and retailers to offer bonus materials digitally. It saves on disc space and production costs. But Target seems to have a headache to deal with regarding the decision to offer an exclusive Captain America: The Winter Soldier behind-the-scenes featurette through its Target Ticket digital streaming service.

The “Behind the Lens” featurette is touted on a sticker on the cover of the 3D Blu-ray for the film at Target. The packaging is otherwise identical to the wide-release version. This separates Target from Walmart’s and Best Buy’s offerings on the title, which didn’t include bonus content but instead offered the 3D version in exclusive packaging.

Target’s version is also $19.99, far and away the best value among the major retailers for the 3D edition, so I decided it was worth picking up a copy to check out the exclusive.

I should mention that before I bought the title, it wasn’t quite clear the exclusive was only available digitally, since it’s not uncommon, especially on Marvel titles, to include an exclusive bonus disc.

There wasn’t a bonus disc on this one, so the first warning sign should have been that the inserts containing the code didn’t contain any special instructions specifically for the Target content. The only hint of what to do was on the cover sticker, which stated “Download your digital copy at targetticket.com/redeem.” This is easy enough for regular Target shoppers to overlook since many of the discs in their electronics section contain stickers with similar messaging, simply trying to push shoppers to use its digital service as opposed to Walmart’s Vudu or Best Buy’s CinemaNow to redeem UltraViolet copies. Being a Disney title, Captain America: The Winter Soldier isn’t offered via UltraViolet, but via the Disney Movies Anywhere app and participating retailers.

The URL on the sticker just redirects to the regular Target.com retail site, so no help there.

At TargetTicket.com, a title search brings up two versions of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with one labeled as offering the exclusive content, available as a standalone digital purchase (at $14.99 for standard-def or $19.99 for HD). Unfortunately, this one doesn’t offer a button to redeem the code. After hitting the “Redeem a Code” button on the main page, then selecting the option to redeem a Disney code, the site asks to search for the title, and doing so came up with one version of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I entered the code, and the movie appeared in my TargetTicket library without the extras promised on the box.

After searching through the site for other options and finding none, I clicked on the link to contact customer support and called their hotline. The customer service rep said that the exclusive version should have popped up after I hit the redeem button and searched for the title, and that her computer showed four versions of the movie (maybe she was looking at the disc versions on the regular site — but the exclusive disc isn’t offered there anymore). After saying that only one version showed up on my computer, she seemed confused about the possibility of a technical snafu, but said that since I had already redeemed the code for the regular version (the only version available to me, since there were no instructions in the package telling me what to expect), there was nothing she could do, other then recommend I buy another copy to get a new code to try (or, at the very least, exchange my copy for another one with a fresh code).

Given the technical issues with the title not showing up as redeemable, I said this wasn’t a very good plan, and the inconvenience it would cause was extremely irksome. I pointed out that other digital streaming sites, such as Flixster, have the ability to bypass the code system when there is a problem and just add the title to the user’s library, but she said she couldn’t do that. After a few more minutes of conversation that seemed to go in circles, in which she said she’d report the problem with their technical team, I finally suggested they give me an account credit so I could just buy the version with the extras on the site and add it to my library that way. She finally got permission from her supervisor to do this, and with a $20 account credit I was finally able to get the correct version of the title in HD and watch the bonus video.

The exclusive featurette is just six minutes but turned out to be pretty interesting, delving mostly into how the filmmakers used CGI to enhance the film’s reality by artificially aging actress Hayley Atwell to appear as the older Peggy Carter, and the use of digital doubles for the actors to create some of the stunts.

But the frustration caused by the process to finally see this video is obviously a big problem, especially as studios and retailers attempt to convince consumers of the value of synergy between disc and digital (which such exclusive promotions are meant to highlight), and as Target tries to rehabilitate its digital reputation following its credit card database being hacked.

A check of the message boards later in the day (this is on Sept. 9, the day the disc first hit shelves) showed several shoppers were having similar troubles trying to access the video, but most seemed to either give up looking (happy enough with the $19.99 price) or resolved to take back the video for a refund so they could go to another retailer to get the special packaging (another potential headache for Target).  Posters at some message boards reported their stores were out of the exclusive edition, either sold out or possibly pulled from shelves until the issues are resolved.

Hopefully Target gets this mess cleaned up soon, as I doubt they’re thrilled at the prospect of offering $20 digital credits to thousands of their annoyed customers.

P.S. — The code was still good via Disney Movies Anywhere, which offers several other promotional goodies for the title, such as digital comic books and discounts on toys. These are offered with the wide release too, not just the Target exclusive. The DMA copy links to iTunes, which offers its own digital exclusive featurette.

UPDATE (9/10/14): Apparently Target has consolidated its multiple digital versions of Captain America: The Winter Soldier at Target Ticket, so that the only version that pops up under the redeem search is the version with the extras, and some users reported receiving an email informing them that their previously redeemed version of the film would now include the extras. This would appear to resolve the issue, though it's unknown if this means that codes from any version of the film, including those from other retailers, can be used to access the Target exclusive.

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