Blockbuster ads celebrate outlasting Netflix in the DVD business

Social campaign from Atlantic New York arrives just as Netflix has shipped its final DVDs by mail

Published On
Oct 03, 2023
Photo of a woman working at Blockbuster with the headline "We still have DVDs. And humans."

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Blockbuster will take its wins where it can get them, particularly when the opportunity arises to stick it to Netflix—the company that put Blockbuster very nearly (though not quite entirely) out of business.

As you may have heard, Netflix shipped its final DVDs by mail last Friday, exiting the business that originally put the company on the map 25 years ago, long before the arrival of streaming. This was delightful news to the one remaining Blockbuster store—there used to be 9,000—in Bend, Oregon, which can now say it’s outlasted Netflix at something.

Blockbuster posted the ad above to its Instagram (@blockbusterbend) on Friday, and it ended up being its most-liked social post ever. The work comes from Atlantic New York, which also created Blockbuster’s unofficial, post-apocalyptic Super Bowl commercial last winter.

“We all knew this announcement from Netflix was coming—and we had discussions with Blockbuster around it—but none of us realized how big of a story it would become in the news,” Atlantic founders João Coutinho and Marco Pupo told Ad Age in an email. “So, on Friday, we all quickly put our heads together to drum up a fun way to react to the frenzy while actively participating in the story. The clients were great at moving fast and trusting us to do what was right for them.”

The agency did a couple more posts as well, including this one:

In many ways it is fitting that Blockbuster is holding on to DVDs—and bucking the trends of the moment—since the company’s whole brand positioning now, captured in Atlantic’s broader “’Til The Bitter End” campaign, is about outlasting the inevitable.

“The world’s last [Blockbuster] store became an icon of an era, keeping one of the most iconic brands alive,” Coutinho and Pupo said. “After years and years of the media repeating that Netflix was responsible for putting Blockbuster out of business, it’s quite funny that Blockbuster just outlasted Netflix on DVDs. This is gold material for the brand’s fans, and we had to react to it.” 

One final post featured the iconic bouncing DVD screensaver icon.

As with Atlantic’s prior Blockbuster work, this new campaign is clearly humorous and, on some level, campy. Yet, not far below the surface, there is also a real affinity for the Blockbuster brand that goes beyond mere nostalgia and gets to the question of whether streaming has really made our lives better—or if certain elements of the “old way” of renting movies actually brought us closer.

This sentiment isn’t spelled out in any of the brand’s communications, but it does underpin a lot of the remaining affection for the company.

“We started working for Blockbuster out of curiosity for their story, but after spending more time with the brand, researching insights and seeing what people really are craving right now, it’s pretty clear to us that Blockbuster has a legitimate reason to stay around,” Coutinho and Pupo said.

“Everything comes and goes, and people really miss the times when a Friday ‘movie night’ was a true family moment. Everyone had to decide together what to watch. And once you picked your movie, you stuck with it. There was no regret. No watching five minutes and then moving on to something else. No multiple people on the same couch watching different things on their devices, being completely disconnected from one another.”

They added: “A lot of people miss that way of living, and that’s why the world’s last Blockbuster is becoming such a popular and beloved story. We want to keep that story going.”

Credits

Date
Oct 03, 2023
Client :
Blockbuster
Agency :
Atlantic New York

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