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Blockbuster Advertising Turns Up the Heat

25 May, 2001 By: Joan Villa

Blockbuster Inc.’s new seasonal ad campaign is designed to deliver themessage "Make your summer nights Blockbuster nights."

The nationwide campaign features four television commercials showing what can go wrong with summer activities to suggest that visiting Blockbuster at night offers a break from hectic summer days, according to Blockbuster’s senior v.p. of marketing George Williams.

"We know everyone loves summer and we know summer days are exhausting. So when it’s all said and done, make sure you know nighttime is the time for Blockbuster," Williams explains.

Blockbuster cut back on TV advertising in the spring, since traditionally it isn’t a big rental season, but summer is important for video stores, Williams says. He would not provide specifics on the cost of the campaign, but says Blockbuster advertising will pick up in the summer months.

The ads capture "the seasons of the consumer’s mind," he says, by acknowledging that people are shifting into a summer mindset and behaving differently than they do during spring or the school year.

The spots use humor to capture attention, then introduce a news component such as a new in-store program or movie.

A promotion pegged to Memorial Day, for example, touts a new $30 Entertainment Pass that Williams describes as an upgraded version of theretailer’s $19.99 DVD Pass. The pass entitles the holder to rent a DVD per day for 30 days, including games "that rent as high as $5.99"depending on location, Williams says.

The summer-themed spots will plug the Entertainment Pass or a week’s new releases, but also upcoming titles rather than deep catalog. The intent is to show consumers that "a lot of exciting product is coming to Blockbuster this summer…so almost any time they want to come would be agood time," Williams says.

The campaign is an extension of last year’s "bringing entertainment home" theme, but the specific approach is the culmination of nine monthsof research and focus groups exploring how to best communicate that message to consumers, Williams explains.

The four comedic commercials feature what could go wrong during various summer activities: on the golf course; as an outdoor chef; and after a biking excursion.In the latter spot, a garage door pulls bikes off the roof rack of a family’s car as it drives into a garage, while the car drags a garden hose that knocks a barbeque and some other things into the swimming pool.

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