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Studios Praise Retail Promotion

29 Jul, 2005 By: Kurt Indvik

A retailer call for studios to exhort consumers to “Buy or Rent Today” in their home video advertising generated spontaneous applause from the audience during the panel "Studio Perspectives on Marketing of Home Entertainment" at this week's Home Entertainment 2005 show. It was a not-so-subtle suggestion that studios don't promote the rentailer enough.

Several studio executives suggested the rental market might see an upswing, based on the lessening buy rate among consumers. “Rental may be coming back,” said Pam Kunick-Cohen, VP at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Kunick-Cohen also noted that studios realize home video has become like theatrical in its need to have a fast start at retail to have longer legs on the shelf. “We're spending more money on advertising than we ever have before,” she said. “If we don't get the sales and rental in the first week, retail goes on to the next title.”

The panel discussed bringing the impact of home video marketing to the store level, recognizing that retailers play a major role in product awareness through in-store promotions, merchandising and localized advertising and marketing.

The product glut is confusing the consumer, said Patrick Fitzgerald, SVP of Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

“We have to help you create a better shopping experience,” Fitzgerald said, adding that an estimated 50 percent or more of home video sales are impulse driven. Studios need to help create “retail-tainment” in the stores, bringing the excitement of Hollywood, especially in mid-sized and smaller markets, he said.

Studio execs said they're working to create more account-specific promotions, including special packaging, related brand crossmarketing or such cutting-edge techniques as text messaging to target specific audiences.

Customization can be regional, as in the case with Fox, which will offer a special version of Fever Pitch Sept. 13 for the rabid Boston Red Sox fans in the Northeast market that includes a variety of bonus features appealing to them, or in the case of Lions Gate Entertainment's Willy Boys, which got special retail promotion in North Dakota, where the film takes place.

The studio execs encouraged retailers to take advantage of any and all studio marketing promotions and to work with their distributor or studio reps to find opportunities to create store- or market-specific promotions for titles.

“What you do [at retail] is as important, if not more important, than what we do,” to promote a film, said Lions Gate's EVP Anne Parducci.

Retailers have the in-store and direct-marketing relationships with their local customers that can be leveraged along with studio-supported promotions to raise title awareness.

“You can bring the promotional creativity down to the local level, and you need to look to your distributor for that,” said moderator Bill Crystal, VP of distributor Ingram Entertainment.

Mark Rashba, VP of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, showed an example of a promotion Sony put together with TV Land to push first-season collections of such shows as “All in the Family” that included in-store-branded displays.

“The No. 1 reason TV Land was interested was the exposure at retail,” he said.

Ventura Distribution's VP Victoria Sarro noted its Studio Latino label has a “Latino Starter Kit” that includes bin cards, signage and other merchandising support.

One retailer in the audience complained that because of the concern for piracy, studios had stopped sending out screeners to retailers, which made buying difficult. The studio execs agreed that it's a serious issue, especially for trade marketing of smaller box office titles, and that new trade approaches needed to be implemented. Fitzgerald said Buena Vista just launched an online service for retailers to download large portions of certain films to screen for buying decisions.

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