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Universal puts new spin on video promotion

Universal Studios Home Video has created a new CD-ROM promotion for its latest direct-to-video release, slated for launch mid-May. The Land Before Time Sing Along Songs, the fifth title in the popular kids video series, will include a free CD-ROM inside...
April 1, 1997

Universal Studios Home Video has created a new CD-ROM promotion for its latest direct-to-video release, slated for launch mid-May. The Land Before Time Sing Along Songs, the fifth title in the popular kids video series, will include a free CD-ROM inside each cassette. The Land Before Time Activity Center CD-ROM, created by Sound Source Interactive, offers activities incorporating characters and songs from the video. According to Universal Studios Home Video’s director of marketing, family products, Michael Polis, the home video/CD-ROM promotion is a first in the home video industry.

The package is priced at US$12.98, and will be available at major chains, such as Wal-Mart, Kmart and Sears, as well as kids retailers internationally.

The Land Before Time Activity Center CD-ROM, which runs on Windows 95, Windows 3.1 and Macintosh, offers customers the option to call a toll-free number to obtain a code that unlocks seven additional activities on the disc. These are offered in addition to the two activities already provided. The ‘unlocking feature’ costs customers US$19.98 charged to their credit cards. This is the first time Universal has used the feature, says Polis.

‘It took a while for Universal to buy off on the CD-ROM concept,’ said Andrew Kairey, executive vice president of Universal Studios Home Video. ‘They became more receptive to the concept when they realized that the market was large enough that they could benefit.’ Statistics cited by Universal from the monthly newsletter Youth Markets Alert reveal that nearly half of kids surveyed totaling 722 kids age six to 12 in the U.S. have access to computers at home with CD-ROM drives. The figures also show that roughly 86 percent of this group and 70 percent of kids under age six use a personal computer.

Initial retail response to the interactive promotion has been positive. ‘I think it’s a great added value to the product line,’ says Michael Tabakin, director of trend merchandising, Toys ‘R’ Us. Kmart’s director of corporate communications, Dennis Wygen, is also cautiously optimistic. ‘Everybody at this point is looking for a way to separate themselves from the pack in home video,’ he says. ‘I think this is a really clever way of doing it.’ (Neither retailer would confirm whether it will carry The Land Before Time Sing Along Songs.)

Tabakin notes that he’s seen the inclusion of a CD-ROM work successfully for other kids product lines. ‘Trendmasters bundled their action figure with a CD-ROM that’s like a coloring book. It’s sort of a one-trick pony, but it’s a nice piece of software. They’ve done it with a number of their action figures, and it’s really quite great.’

Buyers’ only hesitation about the promotion concerns its cost. ‘I’m hoping that the price point of the item d’esn’t go up because of the promotional spin on it,’ says Tabakin.

This promotion is the latest in a long line of multi-media tie-ins involving licensed kids properties that retailers have seen in the last year, says Wygen. ‘There are a lot of different things coming around. We’ve seen things that are like this in cross-promotions, [in terms of] pulling in different kinds of media.’

The video release is also being supported by a national fast-food campaign with Burger King in the U.S. that will comprise six different Land Before Time premiums in Burger King Kids’ Meals, along with a coupon off a US$3 rebate off the video/CD-ROM package.

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