‘Happy’ trailers

Y&R goes Hollywood for B'buster campaign

Blockbuster’s day-old “Go Home Happy” campaign gave its creators, Nelson Martinez and Randy Van Kleeck at New York’s Young & Rubicam, what Madison Avenue considers an upper-class problem: How to compete with Hollywood?

“It was exactly what every creative wants from an assignment — to come up with Hollywoodesque images,” admits Van Kleeck, the copywriting half of the duo.”

But even the client was aboard on this one, encouraging its creative team to come up with commercials capable of holding their own against the very movies Blockbuster rents.

As Scott Parks, ad director for the client, puts it: “The Blockbuster message has to deliver the same production quality of the movie trailers to earn its share of the communication message. Otherwise, audiences remember the movie title but not the retailer.”

The resulting campaign, which Monday night unveiled its first three executions, consists of six stand-alone 30-second spots, some of which are being cut in half to run with 15-second movie trailers.

Art director Nelson Martinez calls the spots a celebrity-free “eclectic mix,” adding that each attempts to marry the call-to-action obligation of every retail campaign “with just a germ of Hollywood magic.”

Hence the duo’s retention of the legendary cinematographer Conrad Hall (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) as direc-tor of photography, as well as Amalgamated Dynamic (“The X-Files,” “Aliens” and “Terminator”) for such small-screen-bound mini-movies as “Dinosaurs,” “Crying Fish” and “Waiting.” Another 30-second wonder, “Talking Fish,” uses the Universal Studios water tank that once housed “Jaws.”

The campaign, in ad content and in media weight, would seem to say more about Blockbuster owner Viacom’s commitment to the formerly troubled subsidiary than any corporate announcement.

The subsidiary’s 6,000 units, for example, spent untold millions on additional inventory just to live up to the campaign’s premise — that Blockbuster members can now get the movie they want when they want it.

Karen Raskoph, VP of corporate communications, says that, come July, Blockbuster will have twice as many new titles on the shelf, many obtained via revenue-sharing agreements with studios, as it did a year ago. Copy depth has been increasing as well, with the number of new releases available running 50% ahead of last year’s figure.

“There’s no doubt we took our eye off the consumer,” says Raskoph, who quickly adds that Blockbuster was not alone. “Studies for all video stores show that 14% to 20% of all customers were walking out empty-handed. That’s unheard of in retail.”

Blockbuster sensed it was back in retail form with the video release of “The Full Monty,” for which the rental chain launched its first-ever guarantee.