UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. -- The video industry needs more creative marketing to expand sales of special interest products, said Philip Kent, president of Turner Home Entertainment, Atlanta. "If we are looking at, for argument's sake, a $10 billion sell-through market in 1997, I believe a huge chunk of that could well be generated by non-theatrical product," he said. Kent spoke at the fifth annual convention of the Special Interest Video Association, held here last month. Much of Turner's original programming is special interest, said Kent. "What we do is simply market the hell out of our products. We take an idea and repackage it for every possible market it can fit into, and we do it together with other TBS divisions," he said. For example, Turner used "integrated marketing" to get the most out of the Flintstones cartoon line it acquired with the Hanna-Barbera studios, Kent said. "I believe integrated marketing is the new religion in home entertainment," he said. With the theatrical release of Universal's live-action movie of "The Flintstones" earlier this year, Turner launched a marketing blitz that resulted in over 500 new product licenses worldwide, started a new publishing imprint called Bedrock Press and remastered, repackaged and re-released Flintstones animated products on video. "None of this was molecular physics. With integrated marketing as our bible, we turned a movie tie-in opportunity into a companywide initiative," said Kent. Turner's financial strength helped, but the key was the creativity of the company's staff. "We are all in a war to grab a piece of Mr. and Mrs. Consumer's cranial space ever day of the week. The way to do that in a crowded media environment is to open new distribution channels, take some chances and form some unusual alliances. If we do all that, special interest video could go through the roof," said Kent. Referring to the old real estate adage of the importance of "location, location, location," he commented, "In home entertainment, it's 'marketing, marketing, marketing,' and the more integrated the better to spread those impressions around." This also will apply as the interactive multimedia marketplace grows. "Interactive is not the Second Coming, but it is an exciting new category of home entertainment, and an extension of what we are already doing," he said. For example, Turner has worked with NFL Films to produce a compact disk read-only memory title on the National Football League's greatest plays, while the Turner book division published a companion coffee table book. The CD-ROM allows the user to choose from multiple camera angles, look at animated play diagrams and search player statistics. "We used the technology to create a unique product that extended an already integrated marketing program," he said.
"It's not brain surgery. It's about experimenting with new formats, opening new markets and exploring new channels of distribution," he said. Kent also said that the proposed video-on-demand systems will impact the top movies but not catalog titles and special interest for at least the next decade. "The infrastructure isn't going to be in place for a long, long time to handle more than just the top releases. Consumers may be frustrated by the inability to start, stop and resume the program feed. Most important, people will always want to get out of their homes and enjoy the browsing experience," he said.
"I also believe people still love to be programmed to, and that having everything on-demand will cheapen a consumer's perception of the product," he said.