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Have a Heart…

17 Nov, 2002 By: Dan Bennett

As Jack Jones once sang, love is in the air, and he wasn't talking about perfume and cologne as much as cross-pollination.

Birds-and-bees activity is plentiful as spring draws near, and so is activity in the video industry. Studios and suppliers increase their romance-title promotions as the holidays close and a new year begins, seeking to take advantage of heavy gift-giving among consumers.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has long worked the Valentine's Day angle to full advantage. The studio has a monster supply of romance titles, both old and new, and offers generous repricings, heavy repromotes and a variety of choices.

The studio has reduced several VHS titles to $9.98 and several others to a new low of $6.98.

“We combine that with a separate promotion offering Kissing Jessica Stein and Life or Something Like It at $14.98 VHS sellthrough, and we're really showing a commitment to pricing romances where retail can move them at this time of year,” said Todd Rowan, SVP of marketing for Fox Home Entertainment.

“From a product standpoint, the news is on the DVD side with the reprices.”

DVDs repriced to $19.98 are Ever After, Never Been Kissed, One Fine Day and Moulin Rouge, among others.

“We've also remastered several titles and given choices for widescreen or pan-and-scan,” Rowan said. “We want to help our channels and assist people so they don't need to carry double inventory. At the same time, we give viewers a choice of what they want to watch, and let them add to their collections in the format they prefer.”

Though other promotions may get more ink, Valentine's Day promotions prove popular every year.

“Valentine's Day promotions do extraordinarily well,” Rowan said. “We try to offer a really good lineup of romance type of titles. Our overall positioning is obviously female-targeted.

“In a nutshell, we devise a strategy that offers a gift from you, for you.”

Retailers see the promotion as increasingly relevant, Rowan said, and like the fact the titles are evergreen.

“We're also dipping into romance for our Studios Classics line and will release An Affair to Remember before Valentine's Day,” Rowan said. “That's a classic, and it's fully restored and remastered on VHS and DVD.”

VHS, in fact, remains a player in promotions like these.

“We used to just say these titles on VHS were rentals, but now, for three bucks more, customers can add them to their libraries,” Rowan said.

Other studios also are cashing in on high-awareness titles for the Valentine's Day buying season.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment is releasing Sweet Home Alabama Feb. 4. The hit romantic comedy starring Reese Witherspoon was the highest-grossing September theatrical release in history, and the DVD version will offer an alternate ending.

Artisan Home Entertainment also offers a strong Valentine's Day promotion every year. The studio releases its own promotion and a separate promotion in partnership with its Hallmark Home Entertainment line.

“Our own classics are familiar to consumers, and with the Hallmark titles, we kind of get the equivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,” said Hosea Belcher, VP of marketing for Artisan Home Entertainment. “Hallmark stands for great stories, and they are often about love and romance.”

There's an increasing trend to give DVDs as Valentine's Day gifts, Belcher said.

“It's not just chocolate and roses anymore,” he said. “Retailers are always looking to merchandise product, and Valentine's Day can be a push for DVD sales. Maybe a guy can't afford a diamond ring, but he can afford to buy her a DVD of Dirty Dancing, and the two of them sit down and watch it together.”

VHS remains strong for impulse Valentine's Day sales, Belcher said.

“The industry might as well take advantage of that while people are in the mood,” he said. “We should also remember that kids like gifts on Valentine's Day. That's why we are releasing a couple of ‘Clifford' titles with Valentine's Day themes.”

MGM Home Entertainment, meanwhile, has its own formidable promotion geared for the season, with several notable titles priced at $14.95 DVD. The Jan. 7 titles include Much Ado About Nothing, True Love, Tune In Tomorrow and The Woman in Red.

“Traditionally, MGM has experienced great success with our romance promotions during the Valentine's Day sales period,” said Amy Zwagerman, marketing manager for MGM Home Entertainment. “This is due to a combination of factors, including prominent placement at retail, consumer predisposition toward romance and a strong product offering.”

MGM has sold more than 4 million units to date of its best-selling romance films, Zwagerman said, and the studio expects to ship in another 1.5 million units this Valentine's season.

“Our focus for 2003 is on offering something for everyone,” she said. “ We have a collection of romance films available at all price points. Our plans include the repricing of the special edition DVD versions of the hit films Legally Blonde and The Princess Bride to $19.98 SRP, and a new-to-DVD mix of wonderful romances at $14.95 SRP.”

Several longstanding titles will also be pushed, including Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Cutting Edge, Mystic Pizza, When Harry Met Sally, Moonstruck, China Moon and The Thomas Crown Affair.

“Additionally, we have developed a bundled product that packages both a romance film and a male-targeted action-comedy film together in a two-pack that delivers something for him and something for her, at an impulse purchase price of $19.99 SRP,” Zwagerman said.

Looking for a different kind of action around Valentine's Day? You might try Wellspring Media's explosive boxed set The International Erotic Collection, featuring the critically admired and hot-to-trot titles Lies, In the Realm of the Senses, Pola X and Erotique, among others. There is also the perennial favorite from Koch Vision, the “Intimate Loving” series, with such titles as What Women Love, What Men Love, Love Around the House and Massage for Lovers.

“These titles were ranked the best how-to titles in the market by Men's Health magazine and others,” said Meir Sharony, president of the Alexander Institute, where the “Intimate Loving” videos were produced. “They were developed and hosted by outstanding sex therapists, educators and best-selling authors.”

With anticipation of birds humming, bees buzzing, video titles bulging with DVD extras, powerful low pricing and runaway libidos, the season of love and repromotes will be upon us before we know it.

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