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HD Backers Step Up Promos

22 Nov, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

Backers of both high-def disc formats — Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD — have long been prepping for this fourth-quarter shopping season. Now that it's here, and with HDTV sets hot on holiday shoppers' lists, both software camps have stepped up their visibility campaigns.

Blu-ray Disc supporters 20th Century Fox, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Sony and Warner Bros. have launched a new advertising campaign for the technology. The centerpiece is a high-end ad incorporating movie clips from Blu-ray content supporters.

The 30-second spot was created specifically for HDTV sets and began airing Nov. 17 exclusively on HD stations Discovery HD, INHD and HDNet. (See it at www.sicolamartin.com/bluraybroadcast/). Blu-ray proponents also have broadened advertising placement in print and online media outlets.

The expanded print campaign now runs in lifestyle magazines, including GQ and Popular Mechanics, in addition to those targeted at the AV enthusiast, such as Home Theater, Home Entertainment and Wired. The online segment, which has previously run on CNET, PCWorld, Wired, Google and Yahoo, has been expanded to include IMDb.com, GameSpot.com and ESPN.com. Both print and online spots are filled with popular entertainment icons from movies, music and gaming such as Superman, the Human Torch from “Fantastic Four,” and singer John Legend.

“This kind of promotional effort is unprecedented,” said Peter Staddon, EVP of marketing for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. “The fact that such a large group of industry heavyweights support Blu-ray Disc is good news for consumers who want to be assured that Blu-ray is the format of choice by industry leaders.”

Meanwhile, HD DVD isn't going unnoticed. This fall, format backers kicked off a hands-on consumer education tour with “The Look and Sound of Perfect,” a rolling road show of HD DVD technology.

Nov. 20 and 21, HD DVD's recognizable black tour bus made a stop at the popular Hollywood, Calif., high-end shopping destination The Grove. Inside the 18-wheeler is a mini-theater with an 8-foot projection screen, where consumers can check out, in an optimum setting, the enhanced picture and sound quality of HD DVD, and get a glimpse of the menu interactivity and potential for new extra features on the next-generation discs.

The tent poles of the HD DVD presentations also are trailers that feature content from HD DVD backers such as Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video.

Many people who come through the exhibit don't know much about the new formats, said Kevin Collins, director of HD DVD promotion for Microsoft. They are blown away by the picture and sound but are surprised and intrigued at all the little extras that come standard to HD DVD, such as picture-in-picture pop ups and bookmarking on the discs.

Those features are written into the specifications for all HD DVD players, unlike Blu-ray, which is why many HD DVD discs have more extra features than the Blu-ray line up, he said. Content suppliers create extras for the lowest common denominator, he said. They can be confident in adding extras to HD DVD discs because every player is guaranteed to support them, something that can't be said for Blu-ray, he said.

Indeed, Warner, one of the studios backing both formats, is holding off on Blu-ray releases for titles such as V for Vendetta, Batman Begins and Constantine until the studio can offer the same extras that each title's HD DVD counterpart carries, said Dan Silverberg, VP of high-def media development for Warner.

Warner wants to be format-agnostic and not make it seem one format has an edge over the other on any given title, he said.

“Warner Bros. is absolutely taking on a little more financially by supporting multi-formats, but we also want the consumer to have all the choices at their disposal,” he said. “We just think it's a better way to go.”

Warner built a high-definition-disc encampment at the studio's Nov. 16 gala to celebrate the HD DVD, Blu-ray and DVD release of Superman Returns. A large area of the party was set up with HDTV sets, HD DVD players and Blu-ray systems for Superman fans to check out.

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