Blockbuster Spares Little for ‘Late Fees’

DALLAS Blockbuster’s “No more late fees” campaign that runs through the end of January is one of the largest in the video rental chain’s recent history, a company representative said.

“We typically do not release ad expenditures,” a rep said. “However, this is the largest advertising campaign in recent years for Blockbuster.”

Blockbuster spent $41 million on advertising in 2003 and $26 million through October 2004, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

A TV spot called “Chant,” produced by Doner of Southfield, Mich., will run through the end of January on top-rated broadcast shows and sporting events, the company said. Media buys are handled by Camelot Communications of Dallas.

Blockbuster, the nation’s largest video rental chain, is headquartered in Dallas. The company, spun off from parent Viacom last year, is seeking to acquire rival Hollywood Video and is facing stiff competition from online DVD-rental upstart Netflix and competing services from mass merchants like Wal-Mart.

The “No more late fees” campaign comes as Blockbuster is revamping its business model to include online rentals and unlimited in-store rentals for a flat monthly fee.

The TV spot shows a crowd in front of a Blockbuster store chanting “No more late fees.” When an employee of the store unfurls a banner that reads “No More Late Fees,” the crowd is stunned into silence before erupting in celebration to the accompaniment of Roy Orbison’s song “It’s Over.”

The executive producer for the spot was Doner vice president Paul Renusch Sr. Vice president David Vawter was creative director, with Chris Taylor as art director, the company said.

Blockbuster will also run print, radio, outdoor and online ads as part of the campaign, the company said.