M-Go Tests Title-Specific Movie Gift Cards

Digital video venture owned by DreamWorks Animation and Technicolor rolls out prepaid cards to 300 grocery stores

M-Go is aiming to re-create the experience of giving physical DVDs as gifts in the digital era — arguing that it’s more personal to bestow, say, “Smurfs 2” on that special someone than a generic prepaid card.

The company, the digital video venture of DreamWorks Animation and Technicolor, last week began rolling out retail displays with title-specific gift cards for 12 movies at 300 Kroger, Safeway, Ralphs and Vons grocery stores in California, Nevada, Ohio and Texas. The dozen films are from 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros. and DreamWorks Animation, with more expected in the coming weeks.

Apple’s iTunes and other digital content services have sold prepaid gift cards for years. But M-Go is counting on making the cash register ring by promoting individual movies such as “Pacific Rim” and “The Croods.”

“They’re specific titles we think people will want to own or gift. It’s not just a generic gift card,” M-Go CEO John Batter said.

The strategy also makes sense for M-Go, whose brand is likely unfamiliar to many consumers — and a recognizable movie may be more likely to result in a sale. That said, M-Go is also offering a generic card with a $15 credit to purchase or rent any movie or TV show from M-Go’s library.

The initial M-Go movie gift card titles are “The Croods,” “Elf,” “Epic,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Grown Ups 2,” “Pacific Rim,” “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters,” “The Heat,” “The Internship,” “The Wolverine,” “Turbo” and “Smurfs 2.” The gift cards will be $12.99 to $14.99 for HD versions, depending on the title.

M-Go is in part banking on impulse purchases at the register. “We know a large number of DVD titles bought at retail are impulse buys,” Batter said.

Assuming the test this holiday season performs well, M-Go would expect to have gift cards stocked in as many as 30,000 locations in 2014, according to Batter. M-Go is launching the movie gift cards, which also will be available for purchase through its website, through prepaid payment provider Blackhawk Network.

“We and our studio partners feel that grocery has been an underserved outlet for many years,” Batter said. “To the extent we can figure out a program that works for retail, we think it’s a really great category for home entertainment.”

The M-Go gift cards can be redeemed on the company’s website and streamed across any supported device including Roku set-tops, smart TVs, tablets, smartphones, PCs, Blu-ray players and other devices.

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