Blockbuster to co-brand video and music outlets

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Blockbuster Entertainment Group will turn to co-branding video and music retailing in a "holistic" marketing effort the marketer hopes will strenthen both divisions.

The effort, starting in first quarter 1997, will result in TV ads designed to unify the two concepts under the Blockbuster marque. The brand already enjoys 98% awareness, said Brian Woods, exec VP-chief marketing officer.


The hope is to raise awareness of both brands by getting more power for a combined ad buy.

"We're getting an opportunity to reinvent ourselves from what is already a pretty strong position," Mr. Woods said. "The issue is more expanding perceptions than it is building awareness."

He would not disclose the budget for the proposed media plan, presented to Blockbuster executives Oct. 3.

On Oct. 8, Blockbuster will present to analysts its plans for improving retail performance.

Mr. Woods said the push will be stronger than any previous effort, with heavier placement in higher-profile programming. The plan will allow the company to "stay at or increase the number of consumer perceptions about Blockbuster, and probably reduce our budget at the same time."

With more than 4,800 video stores and 500 music stores worldwide, Blockbuster has decided that co-branding the concepts will work to bolster its image nationally. Also included is an expanded Internet Web site, as well as heavier promotions supporting the Blockbuster membership card.

Earlier this year, the company said it was spending some $20 million on database marketing efforts. Mr. Woods characterized response from that push as "staggering."

The company has done little or no TV for its music division, handled until last week by Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago. Blockbuster brought back Bernstein-Rein, Kansas City, Mo., for its $20 million music retailing account, including media, as well as to handle select portions of its $140 million video account.


Bernstein-Rein will handle video field marketing, and will launch a new holiday TV campaign in November, with Young & Rubicam, New York, handling media. The two agencies will compete for creative assignments. Y&R sister agency Wunderman Cato Johnson will handle in-store merchandising for video and music.

New advertising will support a planned overhaul of 500 company-owned video stores nationwide.

Blockbuster Music stores will step up sell-through of video, and even offer video rental in some locations, said Mr. Woods.

"Stores are going to become more and more alike in many ways," he said. The task at hand, he said, is "how do we open the consumer's mind and change their perceptions about what Blockbuster is beyond video?"

Copyright October 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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