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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Talking About a Generic Ad Campaign for Video Rentals -- But Never Trying It -- Isn't Solely a U.S. Malady

19 Jul, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

The lead story in the latest electronic version of View, the British video trade paper: "Rental needs generic ads -- As U.K. cinemas prepare to launch a campaign to promote cinema-going, rental trade body ESRA has said it would welcome the opportunity to talk to distributors once again about a similar scheme for the rental industry."

There, you see -- discussions about a generic advertising campaign behind video rental isn't solely a U.S. malady. It's happening in other parts of the world, as well.

And it's good to have these discussions, from time to time, just as it's good for countries to talk about world peace and living in perfect harmony, that sort of thing.

Pardon me for sounding cynical -- and who knows, the Brits might actually succeed in pulling this off.

I guess I'm just a little jaded after years and years of hearing such talk here in the United States, and never seeing anything materialize.

A generic advertising campaign, in my mind, is a very, very good thing. Had our best and our brightest gotten it together back in early 1997, when we all started noticing a sharp dropoff in video rental, I daresay the results would have been a lot better than what we're seeing now, with video rental spending essentially flat, aided and abetted solely by the advent of DVD, but with most of the money allocated to the big chains.

A generic ad campaign on the level of the "Got Milk?" or "Beef: It's What's For Dinner" drives would have done wonders for our industry and we could have avoided the whole copy-depth and revenue-sharing mess we're now in. Consumer interested in video rental could well have been rekindled to the point where DVD, today, would be the icing on the cake instead of the key layer.

But it didn't happen because studios only send their own debutantes to the ball and getting the studios to buy off on a generic advertising campaign -- which would mean shifting dollars away from their own title-specific efforts -- is downright impossible.

That's too bad, and I truly wish our British compadres the best. The studios seem a bit more open to new ideas overseas than they are here in the states, where the status quo is a holy cow and where short-term thinking is the only game in town.

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

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