HEAVY PLAY IN LA, NY
Polygram's push for the June 24 debut of its first DVD offerings will be anchored by TV advertising getting heavy play in Los Angeles and New York. The strategy is to attract the attention of the creative and financial communities.
Print ads are in the works, and all Polygram videos will soon begin carrying a DVD-awareness message.
Polygram handles creative in-house; media buying is split between an in-house unit and TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif.
Like other studios that can claim consumer electronics companies as either owners or investors, Polygram will team on a cross-promotion with parent NV Philips, which is launching its DVD hardware through Philips Consumer Electronics.
Coupons for the Polygram titles will be included in the packaging for the Philips players.
"In the '80s, you saw hardware companies buy into software companies and now you're seeing these synergies at play," said Bill Sondheim, president of Polygram Video. "But it's a short-lived launch strategy. Very soon we'll all disconnect and start running our businesses separately."
Warner Bros., which also handles distribution for MGM Home Video and New Line Home Video, introduced 32 titles last week and is expected to release at least five additional titles by the end of April.
It plans to support the products with print ads in newspapers and city magazines throughout April and May in the seven markets in which DVD is now available. Grey Advertising, Los Angeles, handles.
The studio is also executing cross-promotions with Toshiba America, whose parent Toshiba Corp. owns a stake in Warner Bros. Columbia/TriStar Home Video will launch its first four DVD titles April 29, roughly coinciding with the hardware launch from owner Sony Corp.'s Sony Electronics division.
Columbia/TriStar, Polygram and Warner Bros. see DVD as a complement to their existing home video businesses.
Polygram projects 2% penetration in the first year, working its way up to 8% to 10% by the fourth or fifth year. Warner Bros. projects 12% penetration by the third year. Retail prices on the software range from $25 to $30.
Warner Bros. was the only one of the major studios to introduce software with the launch of the hardware, and its seven-market software rollout is said to be causing headaches for hardware retailers in other markets.
Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and Walt Disney Co. remain on the sidelines, as does Universal Studios; DVD marketer Matsushita owns 20% of Universal.
These studios believe the current state of digital technology doesn't adequately resolve copyright protection issues.
"We're very comfortable with the current technical solutions to copyright protection issues, and studios are making progress on any outstanding issues," said John Powers, director of DVD marketing for Warner Bros. Home Video.
Mr. Sondheim of Polygram asserts that DVD is being launched much more strongly than the compact disc was more than a decade ago, when the market was much less savvy and comfortable with digital technology. DVD's direct antecedent, laser disc, never found mass-market acceptance. Mr. Sondheim said DVD marketers must convince consumers that DVD isn't a format strictly for film buffs, which laser eventually became.
"Those who say DVD ultimately won't succeed aren't factoring in that, eventually, consumers will have a single platform that can handle the separate home entertainment experiences: movies, home computing and gaming," Mr. Sondheim said.