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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Signs of Life in the Mythical Land of Post-Street-Date Advertising?

27 Nov, 2000 By: Thomas K. Arnold

There are signs of life in the mythical land of post-street-date advertising.

I just saw a great commercial for Warner Home Video's The Perfect Storm, "now available" on VHS and DVD, that almost had me running to the store to pick up a copy until my wife reminded me that we already have a copy that I had brought home from work two or three weeks ago.

The power of post-street-date advertising is enormous, and it's really a shame the studios don't do more of it. You'd think they'd really step up to the plate, with the holiday shopping season now in full steam and so many new DVD players headed toward households across America.

And yet video ads are few and far between, and the ones you do see are almost always for new releases that are available at a sellthrough price on VHS as well as DVD.

With revenue-sharing now the dominant way studios sell rental-priced cassettes, we were expecting an onslaught of commercials for hot new releases. Studios now have a vested interest in the rental product they sell, we reasoned, so of course they're going to up the ante when it comes to post-street-date advertising. Retailers are no longer the only ones who benefit; now the studios can realize a direct return on their advertising dollars.

Or so we thought. The reality is that so much of studio rental product is tied up in goals and output deals that they really don't care whether the stuff rents or not. Sure, they're supposed to get a tidy chunk of rental revenue, but the actual dollar amount doesn't really vary all that much to justify a hefty expenditure on TV ads.

As for DVD, the studios aren't about to run post-street-date ads for hot new releases whose VHS counterparts are priced for rental. They worry about confusing the customer, although as far as I'm concerned an ad for a new release, "available for rent on VHS and rent and sale on DVD" would make perfect sense.

At this point, about all we can hope for is a steady increase in ads for new sellthrough releases. But even there, don't expect a massive blitz. Studios have grown accustomed to reaping respectable sales numbers with a minimum of advertising expenditures, and a significant percentage of the money they do spend is channeled through the big chains as co-op.

My suggestion is for retailers to e-mail their studios reps and find out exactly which titles they'll be advertising in the coming month, where the ads are running, and with what frequency. That should be a telling barometer of which titles retailers should support as well.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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