When most people think of video promotions, they think of tie-ins with popular sell-through titles. These are videos that studios have designated as "desirable to purchase" for a personal video collection or as gifts. They are usually family-oriented releases, such as popular animation titles from Disney, or other children's films. They also include titles that a studio has chosen to rerelease for nostalgic appeal and classic sentiment -- "Casablanca," for example. It's not a coincidence that these titles are the ones that are most promotable. With few exceptions, when it's time for the video release, the studios will be seeking marketing partners willing to cross-promote the property to increase awareness and sales. They may not all be released as sell-through titles, however. Indeed, many of these popular films will come to market as rental titles. This should not discourage the savvy marketer who creatively examines the potential of the theme of the movie for promoting his product.
Rental titles are hot properties that are beginning to hold interest for many marketers willing to venture into uncharted territory. Most of the studios will not only welcome a marketer's interest in rental titles, but actively encourage it. A brand manager must not limit his thinking to video inserts (found in sell-through cassettes) for delivering the brand message and offer. With the encouragement and cooperation of the studios, there are many creative ways to create awareness and excitement, deliver the same message to the consumer and increase sales. Not long ago, Turner Broadcasting System ran a very successful rental video promotion for a relatively small film created for its TNT and TBS television channels. It was called "Christmas in Connecticut." The principal character (Dyan Cannon) was a professional chef with her own cooking show. In her character's real life, however, the only dish she knew how to make was "flapjacks." Through effective product placement, her choice of product in the film was Mrs. Butterworth's. This became a creative hook for an appropriate cross-promotion with Mrs. Butterworth's pancake mix and syrup. It came to market as a rental title. Mrs. Butterworth's capitalized on the theme by creating a rebate offer on the rental of "Christmas in Connecticut."
Without a video insert, how was Turner going to communicate the offer? A custom commercial using excerpts from the film was created to preview the movie and deliver the details of the promotion and rebate offer. All the information usually delivered through the printed videocassette insert was delivered on this commercial spot. It even included all the information needed to satisfy the rebate offer and fulfillment. When brand managers and retailers become more comfortable with the new promotion opportunities available through rental titles, the creative approaches will become more imaginative.