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Blu-ray Ups Consumer Profile

17 Jul, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Backers of Blu-ray Disc are attempting to significantly ratchet up the format's appeal to consumers through a series of high-profile marketing events and promotions.

Last week, the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) kicked off its first event with a Blu-ray/PlayStation 3 Pool Party at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. The event — held in conjunction with the ESPY Awards — is the first of a multi-faceted Blu-ray promotional effort targeting a variety of high-profile venues through the holiday selling season.

Entertainment and sports guests were given access to a “Blu-ray Lounge” surrounding the mansion's infamous pool and grotto and played new PS3 games and watched Blu-ray movies and rock concerts.

Besides body-painted Playmates, attendees included Jose Canseco, Greg Oden, Braylon Edwards, Chris Evans, Dwight Freeney, Tony Gonzalez, Drew Gooden, Hugh Hefner, Brandon Jacobs, Julius Jones, Ray Lewis, Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, Shawne Merriman, Chris Paul, Matt Ryan, Darren Sharper, Donte Stallworth, Tim Thomas, Amani Toomer and actor Michael Vartan (“Alias”).

Separately, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and MGM's “MaliBlu Screening Room” is in full swing in the celebrity-infested DKNY Beach House showcased on MTV. Well-heeled visitors and VIPs are encouraged to watch Blu-ray releases Batman: The Movie, Juno and Live Free or Die Hard, among others, on a Panasonic 103-inch plasma HDTV.

“The industry needs to educate consumers and show them the benefit of Blu-ray,” said Steve Feldstein, SVP, corporate and marketing communications, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. “The [screening room] presented a unique placement opportunity to show off the product and raise Blu-ray awareness among young, hip influencers and tastemakers that will [help] ‘spread the word.’ Feldstein said Fox will rollout similar events heading into the fourth quarter.

The DEG will be at Comic-Con July 24, where it will sponsor a Blu-ray producers panel together with The Digital Bits Web site, featuring prominent producers discussing the latest developments on Blu-ray Disc. In addition, DEG will film footage of fans experiencing the newest Blu-ray Disc titles.

“The DEG is very excited about our efforts thus far to establish Blu-ray Disc as the format of choice for home entertainment,” said Amy Jo Smith, executive director of DEG. “We're confident that consumers everywhere will come to understand that Blu-ray is the best way to experience movies at home, ever.”

Andy Parsons, SVP of advanced product development at Pioneer Electronics and chair of the BDA promotion committee for the United States, said the promotions underscore the importance of Blu-ray to the industry.

“You have to come at people in many different directions,” Parsons said. “There is a need to make Blu-ray an aspiration thing. It's cool. Everybody is seeing it.”He said the high-profile marketing represents another way to approach the consumer.

“You aren't really cool unless you have Blu-ray,” Parsons said. “You are trying to create buzz. These sorts of events are a great way to do that.”

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