Nothing speaks more keenly to Sony’s dashed dreams for “Oliver Twist” than the simple red sticker resting atop its box art: “All New Movie,” it helpfully advises, lest browsers confuse Roman Polanski’s adaptation with earlier retellings in bins nearby.
The DVD biz has come a long way from its infancy nine years ago, when any release could get snarfed up for sale or rental by virtue of its availability. Now, new releases must compete with a sea of straight-to-disc titles, TV box sets, catalog fare and countless reissues, not to mention smaller UMD format versions of many of the same titles for viewing on PlayStation Portable devices.
Small wonder, then, that studios have latched onto stickering to help their discs stand out from the crowd. Borrowing tactics used by other packaged-goods concerns, homevid marketers have grown increasingly creative with their adhesive come-ons, once the province of sweepstakes offers.
Sticky exhortations range from the simple (“New to DVD!”) to sly (“Second Disc Full of All-New Propaganda!” for the new “Network” reissue) or canny (“6-Disc Collection Featuring Johnny Depp!” boasts Anchor Bay’s second season box for “21 Jump Street” in a sticker that also throws in “Featuring Guest Star Brad Pitt” for good measure). Season four of “The Golden Girls,” meanwhile, plugs Quentin Tarantino’s appearance as an Elvis impersonator, neglecting to mention how small his perf is.
The cover of New Line’s upcoming “The History of Violence” disc sports a sticker shouting out “On 150 Top 10 Lists,” while “Sahara” compensates for its critical drubbing with the promise of “Over 4 Hours of Bonus Material Including Deleted Scenes.”
Marketers say stickering gives them a chance to give their release an added plug — or two — beyond the box art. Once the purchaser opens the wrapper, the come-ons disappear.
“You still have messages you have to convey to the consumer,” Sony homevid marketing veep Jennifer Anderson said.
That can be “Capote’s” five Oscar noms (the disc comes out too soon after the kudocast to denote any wins upon its initial release) or that, familiar title aside, “Oliver Twist” isn’t exactly old hat. The studio calls out the 10th anni of the musical “Rent” on Broadway and the many hours of bonus material on that recent DVD release.
Catalog reissues can get real sticky with details. Universal’s recent reissue of “To Kill a Mockingbird” advertises a Barbara Kopple docu about Gregory Peck and reproductions of theatrical posters, while Paramount’s reissue of “Witness” boasts new interviews with Harrison Ford and Peter Weir.
“DVD has been around for several years now, and you’re seeing multiple iterations of the same movie,” said Lori MacPherson, Disney homevid senior veep of brand marketing. “The consumer is always asking, ‘What’s the newest one?’ ”
For that reason, the 50th anni version of “Lady and the Tramp” released Tuesday carries a sticker indicating it is a two-disc edition, unlike the earlier 1999 release.
Warner homevid also uses stickers to indicate which titles are new to DVD and which are reissues with expanded bonus material — hence the “Network” sticker and an adhesive blurb promising more scandal inside the new “All the President’s Men” reissue.
“We try to be descriptive and really creative with our stickers,” said Warner homevid senior catalog marketing veep George Feltenstein. “The industry is awash in catalog product.”
Marketing execs caution against too much stickering, however. “You don’t want to obscure the beauty of the key art,” Feltenstein said.
“You have to go for quality of message,” Anderson said. “I put two stickers on ‘Rent’ because I had two messages. I’m not going to be shameful about putting them out there.”