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Blockbuster Resurrects 'Carl & Ray' for Super Bowl

1 Feb, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Seeking to expand upon the early success of Blockbuster Inc.'s Total Access online rental, in-store movie return program, Dallas-based Big Blue announced last week it would air an updated version of its “Pet Shop” television commercial during Sunday's Super Bowl XLI on CBS.

The No. 1 movie rental retailer has been a regular buyer of Super Bowl ads, according to a spokesperson.

The original Pet Shop spot aired during the 2002 Super Bowl and featured a CGI animation rabbit named Carl and his guinea pig buddy Ray.

Blockbuster said the TV ad ranked fifth in consumer recall of Super Bowl ads according to research firm Ipsos-Reid Express Omnibus and finished among the top 10 in a USA Today poll. The spot won four CLIO Awards.

The new 30-second version features the voices of James Woods (“Shark”) as Carl, Jim Belushi (“According to Jim”) as Ray, and comedian Bob Goldthwait (Leroy & Stitch) as new sidekick “mouse.”

Animation was done by Tippett Studio, which worked on the recent Charlotte's Web and “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.

Alex Baldwin (“30 Rock”), who did the closing voiceover, can also be heard in Blockbuster's current Total Access TV ads, which have been airing periodically since November.

Blockbuster spokesperson Randy Hargrove said the company considered the “Carl & Ray” ad to be a limited engagement.

“But you never know,” said Hargrove. “They are loveable.”

A Netflix spokesperson said the online rental pioneer doesn't comment on its or rival's national media or individual ad buys.

While Blockbuster promoted the in-home movie rental experience, Nielsen Media Research said theatrical attendance during the 2006 Super Bowl fell 38% to $19.4 million, compared to $31.1 million on an average winter Sunday. Nielsen said the average domestic box office for Super Bowl Sunday versus the average winter Sunday is down by about $11.8 million over the past five years.

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