Blockbuster bites back!

Blockbuster Australia approached Howorth in 2010 to develop a public relations campaign as part of the planned roll out of a $3.5 million brand repositioning campaign – their biggest in ten years.

Despite being wholly owned by Franchise Entertainment Group and maintaining strong business performance, Blockbuster Australia was perceived to be affected by the financial challenges faced by Blockbuster Inc in the US –fuelling misconceptions around the viability of the business domestically.

Howorth set out to:

  • Address the immediate challenges resulting from the coverage of Blockbuster Inc.;
  • Use the launch of the brand repositioning as a platform to generate positive stories around Blockbuster Australia’s market position and the health of the industry in Australia;
  • Engage the franchisees in the brand repositioning campaign and communicate the role franchisees play in driving the success of the company.

To tackle the misconceptions resulting from the US, Howorth developed key messages around the independence of Blockbuster Australia from its US counterpart and the stability of the local business. Statements were distributed to domestic media in response to further developments in the US and media that had previously covered the issue.

Howorth recognised the importance of incorporating the franchisees in the public relations strategy as it is they who drive the business and owner operated model which makes the local industry unique. Howorth worked directly with franchisees to seek potential local media opportunities to change perceptions at a grass roots level and support local business objectives.

Finally, in preparation for the brand repositioning launch pre-briefings with top-tier media were arranged to: create buzz around the evolution of the brand; explain the rationale behind the repositioning and its role within Blockbuster’s long-term business objectives; and share Blockbuster Australia’s point-of-view on the future of the industry.

As a result of the PR launch of the brand repositioning in October 2010, the US challenges had been disassociated, the business’ health was reinforced and pre-conceived perceptions on the industry and future of the business had begun to shift.

Over the months of July to November 2010, the PR campaign reached 7,278,413 online readers, 224,089 TV viewers and radio listeners and 991,255 newspaper readers – a total of 8,493,757 Australians.  Key messages were prevalent in prominent headlines, such as:

  • Blockbuster adopts social hub strategy, The Australian
  • Blockbuster invests in rebranding campaign, Franchising
  • Blockbuster Australia leaves bankrupt US chain’s woes behind, Dynamic Business
  • Blockbuster Australia gets a makeover, Retail Biz
  • Blockbuster Repositioning Campaign, Sky News

Going like Blockbusters, Australian Financial Review