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Universal, Others Play Up Hometown Angle

2 Sep, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Universal Studios Home Entertainment (USHE) is banking on hometown pride to fuel sales of the new 25th anniversary DVD of The Blues Brothers, released this week.

Studio marketers, buoyed by sales reports that show the film's previous VHS and DVD editions have sold 60 percent better in Chicago than in the rest of the country, mounted an ambitious promotional effort inside the Windy City.

Star Dan Aykroyd promoted the 25th anniversary release on Chicago radio and TV stations via satellite, and Chicago radio stations staged special promotions, including a “Singing the Blues” contest in which callers can win prizes by relating sad stories in song.

“Similar to hometown fans celebrating their favorite local sports team, we are finding that towns, cities and even states are embracing DVDs close to their hearts,” said Ken Graffeo, EVP of marketing for USHE.

The company is no stranger to regional DVD launch events — and boffo hometown sales. Star Eminem last year returned to Detroit for the DVD launch of 8 Mile, held at the club where the rapper began his career. Eminem performed for guests, who also got a preview of the DVD's bonus features. Earlier this year, noting the strong theatrical performance of Friday Night Lights in rural Texas markets, USHE supported the DVD release with a radio blitz in the region.

In each case, sales in the “designated market areas” (DMA) averaged 50 percent to 60 percent higher than in the country overall.

Other studios also are toying with regional marketing to drum up hometown support. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Sept. 13 will release a special version of the Farrelly brothers' Fever Pitch DVD, with an extended ending that has four more minutes from the Boston Red Sox's surprise World Series win. The DVD, which comes in special Red Sox packaging, will be sold and marketed primarily in Boston and New England.

Last November, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment launched the DVD release of “Seinfeld” with a big party at the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center in New York City, where the celebrated TV show was set. Jerry Seinfeld and most of the other key cast members attended.

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