Blockbuster launches $20m US marketing comeback

Beleagured rental chain offers first ad campaign since 2007

Game and movie rental firm Blockbuster is attempting to bounce back in the US.

The chain, which filed for bankruptcy in September following a debt of almost $1 billion, is now gearing up for its first advertising campaign in three years.

"One of the biggest challenges for Blockbuster for the past few years has been public perception," CEO Jim Keyes told the LA Times, "and this is intended to remind people that we're still in business and we have a unique offering."

Keyes felt the company could still stand up to stiff competition from Netflix's online rentals and Redbox's street-side kiosks. The latter recently expanded its remit to include games.

Up to 800 of the 3425 US-wide Blockbuster stores are expected to close as part of a plan to escape bankruptcy by early next year. The existing debt has been wiped out.

A federal judge has granted Blockbuster permission to launch the $15-20 million marketing campaign, funded by third-party lenders.

The ads will focus on the fact that Blockbuster provides certain movies up to 28 days earlier than Netflix and Redbox, due to discontent among the likes of Fox, Universal, Warner Bros and Sony about the newer firms' low prices.

The company's monthly advertising in December spend is estimated to be up threefold from the same time last year.

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Latest comments (4)

Terence Gage Freelance writer 7 years ago
Good news to see them come back; I hope they can stay afloat, because there's something I much prefer about using an actual store to shop/rent from, rather than solely online.

I do think their business will need a radical makeover and probably a lot of culling and slimming down in order to remain competitive. Perhaps they should also put more onus on customer loyalty and their online services. I frequently hear radio ads for Blockbuster exclusives here in the UK, but to be honest most of the time they're not especially good films.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game7 years ago
So Blockbuster plan to focus on the fact the get some films earlier than Netflix, as WB et al are not happy with Netflix' lower prices.

What the average rental customer sees: rent from us, we charge more.

Of course some people will pay more to see films earlier, but then they probably go to the cinema or buy the films.

I don't know about US pricing, but here in the 80s a new release video was 12.99 and a rental was 2 (and available months before you could buy). Now a lot of all but the biggest DVD releases are 8.99 to buy (the bigger releases 12.99 to 14.99), but last time I checked blockbuster, 4.50 to rent or something like that, and they come out the same day. I understand the rental price is subject to inflation, but the thing is the to buy price hasn't been. And you have Lovefilm, plus unlimited cinema cards.

Under the current model, Blockbuster have no chance, their one time UK rival, Choices has already moved to a purely online presence I believe.
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Dale Coleman Studying Communication, University of Washington7 years ago
I may or may not have worked at a Blockbuster in the Seattle area for a number of years before deciding to jump ship and return to school. You could (allegedly) say I had topside seats on the Titanic. It seems like The Big Blue still hasn't come to terms with the fact that their ship has already set sail (sorry for the repetitive nautical analogies, but I'm overlooking the bay right now).

Brick and mortar media retailers need to cook up a much better incentive than limited-time exclusivity on a limited number of titles if they are intent on surviving. They need to slouch their budgets toward expanding and promoting their online program (I'm surprised that wasn't even mentioned in this newest announcement), instead of continuing to hump the same "Blockbuster Exclusive" nonsense that, while effective against Hollywood Video, won't cut it in the big leagues.

Blockbuster is like the drunk guy who stayed at the party too long. All his buddies have left with their dates, and he's still stumbling around, trying to convince increasingly unattractive girls to check out his Camero.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Dale Coleman on 22nd November 2010 8:57pm

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
I laughed ridiculously hard at this news. The Blockbusters near me have been selling off stock, so I'd guess they'd be some of the ones closing. Out in some states where RedBox DVD kiosks KILL Blockbuster ($1 rentals!), I'd guess they're done, dead and dust. Too bad i can't drive, as I'd love to go broke buying up stocks of games at a discount just to give as gifts...

Oh - Hollywood Video is pretty much dead here in NYC.

(actually ALL dead, I believe, as the shop that was here shut down a few months ago - got a bunch of DVD's for around a quarter to a dollar each, but missed out on the blu-ray bonanza when some woman who walked in right before I did lucked out and got 40 or so for $12 plus tax)
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