Why simplicity matters: Blockbuster’s new 4th of July Campaign

I received the new Blockbuster ad in the mail today; it’s a lesson in how to deflate the potential customer.

I may be the perfect target for Blockbuster because I don’t have easy access to the service they offer: a lot of movies to rent.  I don’t subscribe to Netflix (anymore), and the Blockbuster store nearest me just closed.  That, followed by the other nearest Blockbuster and the independent video store shut-downs in recent years, along with not enjoying the video kiosk experience (e. g., Redbox), my main source of movies has become free portions of websites like Hulu or Adult Swim or South Park Studios.  But I don’t currently have access to a large selection of movies if I’d like to see them.  Blockbuster could potentially get me to drive a little farther to a store.  Or to use their website if the deal is right, right?

Here’s how getting the ad went:

1. I have Blockbuster ad in hand and I think: “Hmm; I wonder what they came up with this time.  I’ll look at it.”

2. I read the headline of ‘Unlimited Free Rentals…through July 4th’ and think: “Well, that could be nice.  I bet it’s a video-on-demand service; I’ll read further.”

3. I open to the inside of the ad to see “Rent one of our newest releases for $2.99 and enjoy unlimited movies priced at $1.99 or less for FREE through July 4th (1-day rentals, one at a time)’ and I think: “Now, that’s just confusing.  There are two caveats that seem to contradict the concept of unlimited free rentals in that sentence and then there are a few more exceptions in smaller type at the bottom.  I’m not even sure if all this means I need to go to a store or if this is about online viewing.  And how far back does ‘newest’ extend?  Will I really get to see what I want?  And does this mean they no longer have an online service?  Should I go check that out to be sure?”

4. I stopped reading.  I put the ad down.  And I stopped reading because the ad wasn’t doing its job.  I didn’t care to know more because I was too annoyed by the UNLIMITED FREE (but not really unlimited because it’s not actually everything.  Oh, and it’s actually one at a time, and…)

Blockbuster, here’s what I suggest, if you’re interested.  This would have at least got me thinking: “Unlimited Movies from now until July 4th.  $5.  Two out a time.  No joke.  No catches.”

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