Blockbuster Goes for Players

To personify the intensity of playing PlayStation 2, Blockbuster has introduced “Chet,” a video game trainer who antagonizes teenagers into performing wacky exer-cises, in a new campaign from J. Walter Thompson that breaks this week.

Continuing the “Are you game enough?” tagline, one of three 30-second spots for Play-Station 2 video ren-tals targeting 17- to 24-year-old males debuts on MTV, said Scott Parks, vice president of advertising at Blockbuster, Dallas.

Chet is a 6-foot, 5-inch Canadian actor hired to look like a cross between “a World Wrestling Federation outcast and an ’80s gym instructor,” Parks said.

A tamer version of Chet targets 8- and 9-year-olds and will be used in spots on Nickelodeon.

Chet evolved from an ongoing marketing plan at JWT’s Chicago office. He was the brainchild of creatives who came up with the video-games-personal-trainer idea, said Jeff York, JWT’s senior partner/group creative director. Blockbuster is basing its entire video game marketing strategy around Chet. “I think he is going to be a successful, ongoing character,” Parks said.

For the past several years, TV spots have featured the “War wound thumb,” where boys proudly displayed deformities contracted by playing video games rented from Blockbuster, Parks said.

The spots are meant to reflect the experience of playing the game by showing Chet torturing teen-agers with exercises. Blockbuster spent $145 million on all advertising last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.