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Nine Brands Slate Major DVD Promotion

Looking to throw a little gas on the DVD fire, Warner Home Video is coordinating a multi-company software/hardware crossover promotion that is scheduled to carry through the rest of the year.

The promotion offers five free DVD titles (redeemable by coupon) and 13 free DVD rentals from the Blockbuster Video chain.

Scheduled to run August 22, 1999-January 2, 2000, the promotion is designed to spark household penetration for DVD players, which represent one of the largest-growing consumer electronics categories in history, manufacturers said.

According to one vendor, the pace of player sales growth slowed slightly during July, which he attributed to a combination of seasonal buying trends and the expiration of a similar WHV-coordinated five-disc giveaway last spring.

With or without the latest offer, participating manufacturers said they expect sales of DVD players to easily hit 3 million units by the end of the year, and one participating consumer electronics manufacturer (Samsung) now expects that number to reach or surpass 3.5 million units.

What’s different about this offer is Blockbuster’s participation. Electronics vendors see this as driving home the message that DVD is now a mainstream format.

“It’s not just retailer-driven,” pointed out Steve Nickerson, Toshiba marketing VP. “There is a $12 million ad campaign that goes along with it to keep people coming into the stores.”

Nine first-tier consumer electronics brands — GE, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, ProScan, RCA, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba — have signed on for the promotion.

Warner has arranged with other studios to offer five top-selling DVD titles, including: Lethal Weapon 4, Lost In Space (Platinum Edition), Six Days Seven Nights, StarGate and Step Mom. The five discs will be redeemable through a coupon offered on in-store merchandising displays.

The Guild Group and Gauge Marketing have been hired to coordinate the development of point-of-purchase (POP) merchandising materials and program administration. A POP merchandiser that will carry coupons has been developed to alert shoppers to the offer.

In addition to the new WHV-coordinated offers, a few participating vendors are offering extra inducements of their own. Nickerson at Toshiba said his company continues to offer free rentals through NetFlix, and up to seven additional opportunities for discounts, rebates or free movies from the following sources:

  • NetFlix, an online video rental site, offers 15 free rentals to Toshiba player buyers.
  • ?DVD Express, a software e-tailer, offers a $10 discount on any DVD movie.
  •, another software e-tail site, features a buy-one-get-one-free DVD offer for Toshiba customers.
  • Hollywood Video offers five free rentals at any of its rental locations.
  • CD Playright offers $5 off the purchase of a $19.99 Disc Fixer accessory with the purchase of models SD-3109, SD-4109X, SD-6109C and SD-9000.
  • And WHV and Toshiba offer a $15 rebate with the rental of two WHV titles and purchase of any Toshiba player except the SD-9000 until November 20.

Samsung, meanwhile, has a similar array of offers, all of which are to be outlined on the company’s web site. Steve Panosian, Samsung’s digital products group senior marketing director, said, “What we are telling our dealers is, ‘There are more promotions that will support DVD this fall and holiday season than there are features on the products.’ “

In addition to the WHV/Blockbuster offer, Samsung has arranged two incentives through coupons included on DVD player packaging: NetFlix is offering eight free rentals with the purchase of a Samsung DVD player; and?Columbia House DVD Club is offering one free DVD title, and three additional DVDs for $1 apiece, if the customer agrees to purchase four more DVDs at regular price over the next two years.

Philips has arranged similar extra offers, including: NetFlix is offering eight free rentals with purchase of a Philips or Philips/Magnavox DVD player; and Columbia House is offering three DVDs for $1 each and the commitment to buy four more discs at the regular price over the next two years.

Panasonic, meanwhile, said it will begin a major fall advertising campaign to support its “DVD World” of products including DVD video players, DVD-Audio players, DVD laptop players, and mobile DVD players. The effort will include a four-page insert in consumer electronics buff magazines, and it will mention the WHV/Blockbuster incentive plus the following:

  • NetFlix is offering 15 free rentals with the purchase of a Panasonic player through May 31.
  • DVD Express is offering a $10 discount on the purchase of a DVD movie with the purchase of a Panasonic DVD product.

Sony offers 10 free rentals from NetFlix for any player sold by September 30.

At press time, Sony, Pioneer and Thomson could not comment on additional DVD promotional plans.