Blockbuster’s Multi-Million Dollar Ad Campaign Knocks Netflix, Touts 28-day Advantage

Blockbuster has released its national TV ad campaign. At a cost of up to $20 million, the company is using the exact same strategy that led it to bankruptcy.

Blockbuster sad face


Blockbuster is regrouping for a counter-attack against Netflix. After succumbing to bankruptcy under its $900 million debt, the video rental giant is launching a new national TV ad campaign, at a cost of up to $20 million, which touts its 28-day advantage over competitors Netflix and Redbox, and boasts of its “multi-channel entertainment” offerings.

As we suspected, this is the exact same strategy Blockbuster tried before that led the company to bankruptcy. Except now, they have the tagline: “Less Waiting. More Watching.”

The TV spots, developed by Euro RSCG, as described by Blockbuster:

The campaign uses comedy to illustrate exaggerated “relatable” pain points associated with waiting to reinforce how unacceptable it is to wait 28 days for new releases.  It opens with a family hurrying to an airport ticket counter only to be told, “The flight to Honolulu has been delayed 28 days.”  The second vignette features a man and woman walking into a restaurant for a romantic dinner to learn “Your table will be ready in 28 days.”  The final vignette cuts to a close-up of a dental hygienist leaning over a young girl in an orthodontist’s chair, whose mouth is being stretched open by a ridiculous apparatus…” Just relax, the doctor will be with you in 28 days,” she says walking away. The voice over says:

“You’d never wait that long. So why wait 28 days for new releases? Blockbuster has hot new titles, like The Kids Are All Right and Charlie St. Cloud, 28 days before Netflix and Redbox. Rent them in store, by mail, stream on demand and on the go. Blockbuster. Less waiting. More watching.”

In a company statement, which also boasts of the company’s early access to Avatar and The Blindside, Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes said the ad campaign “reminds everyone that we are the first and best source for the hot new releases.  Blockbuster has your favorite new movies on the day of the release AND you can get them through multiple channels–our stores, by mail, streaming on Blockbuster on Demand and downloading to mobile for on the go viewing.”

This is the exact same strategy and business model that Blockbuster used before, from the “multichannel” offerings (in-store, by mail, on demand) to its 28-day leg-up–even right down to the movies the company is advertising. As Keyes quipped way back in April: “”Do you want to watch The Blind Side or Herbie Goes to Cancun?” Back in June, when he told Fast Company: “Avatar comes out, and you want to stream it, you come to me.”

Keyes’ statement above could literally be transplanted into any number of our interviews with the Blockbuster chief. Nothing has changed.


Well, that’s not entirely true. We haven’t seen the “big frowny face” before–except possibly on Blockbuster customers.

About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.