Blockbuster aims to prove DVD devotion

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In its new ad effort, sets out to prove it is just as obsessed with DVD-format movies as the owners of DVD players are.

Blockbuster's two irreverent TV spots, created by Doner, Southfield, Mich., mock the attention audio/videophiles devote to their home DVD systems. In one ad, a DVD devotee rattles off the impressive features of his system, while a clerk matches his enthusiasm as he details the DVD section of his store.

A group of young guys excitedly gathers to watch a DVD movie in the second spot, but their interest wanes when they realize they only have one DVD movie to watch every night. solves the problem by introducing a rental-incentive program that allows consumers to check out 30 DVD movies in 30 days for $19.99-roughly the price of buying one DVD movie.


The ads, which broke Nov. 22, are customized around the holidays, noting is open on Christmas and New Year's Day. "We expect that the holiday season is going to be a big time for DVD-hardware purchases," said Scott Parks, 's VP-advertising. "As people are opening presents over Christmas and getting great new hardware, we want to make sure they know that is the place to go for DVD software."

Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research, an entertainment-media consulting firm, predicts 12 million U.S. consumers will own DVD players by year end, up from five million at the end of 1999. There are about 101 million U.S. households.


"DVD is the fastest takeover by any technology ever, except for the black-and-white television, which went from zero to 50% market penetration in just six years," Mr. Adams said. Support of DVD technology by movie studios and a fast fall-off in retail prices for players-Wal-Mart is selling the machines for around $100-will contribute to DVD's rapid acceptance, Mr. Adams added.

But the DVD rental market still pales in comparison to VHS business. According to Mr. Adams, the VHS rental market hit $10 billion last year, while DVD rentals totaled $650 million. However, he noted DVD movies were generally only made available to rent-in addition to purchase-within the last year. reports its stores now carry about 1,000 DVD rental movies.

Blockbuster's $19.99 30-day pass is meant to portray the value of renting DVD movies over buying. In addition, the company launched a "Guaranteed Satisfaction" promotion for DVD renters this month that lets customers return any DVD movie they did not like and pick out a different DVD movie free.

Value is also the main message of the ad campaign, according to Kevin Weinman, exec VP-account management director at Doner. "This is our first stake in the ground that takes everything is doing in their stores to deliver an outstanding DVD product in terms of assortment and availability, and vividly communicate that to the DVD user," he said.

Blockbuster declined to reveal billings for its DVD campaign. The TV ads are running on a spot basis in the company's top national markets, and radio ads are also on the air. The company, a subsidiary of Viacom, has 7,500 stores in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. Last year, spent $145 million in measured media to support its video-store products, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

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