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Judging a DVD by Its Cover

20 Oct, 2007 By: John Latchem

BBC Video is holding a contest to select the cover for the first-season DVD of

BBC Video's contest to let fans pick the cover of the upcoming Torchwood: The Complete First Season DVD is just the latest example of a marketing technique employed by studios to energize the fan base of certain DVDs.

“Fans almost always know more about the show than the people designing the artwork, so getting them involved in the process of selecting a cover is a great move by the studios,” said Gord Lacey of TVShowsOnDVD.com.

Lacey has particular insight into such fan votes. His Web site has hosted cover contests for such DVDs as Party of Five: Season 1 and Rescue Me: Season 2 for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. for Warner Home Video.

In addition, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment recently held a vote to determine its cover for the second season of “The Muppet Show,” and Universal Studios Home Entertainment allowed fans to pick the cover of the upcoming Battlestar Galactica: Razor DVD, which streets Dec. 4.

The case of Razor is especially notable, Lacey points out, because fans noted a mistake on the cover, which the studio has since rectified.

“Fans can be quick to point out photographs that use the wrong hair style for a season, or just wrong information,” Lacey said.

Meg Branigan, VP of video marketing for BBC Video, said fan involvement was key in the marketing strategy for “Torchwood,” a “Doctor Who” spin-off that has become the highest-rated show in the history of BBC America.

“We want fans to feel that they're part of the destiny of the ‘Torchwood' line,” Branigan said. “It's a very important brand for BBC's cross-promotional efforts.”

Branigan said traffic to the BBC America Web site doubled once voting opened, with an increase in preorders at Amazon.com.

Voting for the “Torchwood” cover runs through Oct. 26 at BBCAmerica.com/TorchwoodDVDvote.The seven-disc “Torchwood” DVD streets Jan. 22.

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