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We Need That Human Touch!

29 Jun, 2011 By: Thomas K. Arnold

The home entertainment industry, I’m afraid, has lost its human touch.

The social experience of walking into a video rental store and maybe chatting with the clerk or other customers before picking out a movie to watch that night has been replaced by a few clicks of the computer mouse to update your Netflix queue.

The rush to pick out a hot new movie the day it comes out on DVD or Blu-ray Disc, where you will likely rub elbows with other fans, has been replaced by complacency that further minimizes the human touch. We wait a day or two, maybe a week, and then toss the movie into our shopping cart as we race down the center aisle to pick up toilet paper and contact lens solution. Or maybe, judging from the way sales have been going, we just wait for it to come out on TV — or while away our evening with Angry Birds on our smartphones.

Inside the business, it’s no different. We don’t see each other much anymore; heck, we don’t even talk on the phone the way we once did, preferring to communicate via Facebook messages or an occasional text.

I miss the periodic events where you saw everyone — the key retailers, the studio presidents and their entourages, the frantic publicists and frazzled marketing executives. The annual VSDA convention is a distant memory; so is the Home Media Summit, two events that fell by the wayside because the studios no longer wanted to support them.

And has it really been a decade since “event marketing” was one of the big buzz words in our business? Grandiose DVD launch events were the norm for awhile there; how I long to see Craig Kornblau ride a camel, as he did for one of Universal Studios’ fabled launch events for The Mummy.

Granted, there are still some studios that do stage elaborate launch events, most notably Warner. But for most there’s barely a press release, and then we wonder why there’s no excitement, no pizzazz.

A lot of us are wondering where this business is heading, why sales are down and we’re no longer seeing record-breaking first-week sales for newly released theatricals. I think we need to look inside. If the movers and the shakers in the home entertainment business aren’t showing any passion, how can we expect the consumers to get excited about our products?

To quote from Bruce Springsteen, “I ain’t looking for praise or pity/I ain’t coming round searching for a crutch/I just want someone to talk to/And a little of that human touch.”



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