Future Shop goes to the drive-in to push DVDs and woo kids

Standing in front of a blue-screen, little Suzie or perhaps little Bobby makes a peace sign. Over on the 27-inch monitor, beside the blue screen, a scene from Disney's animated smash-hit movie Monsters, Inc. is displayed. But it's a little different: in between the giant, blue creature, Sulley, and his sidekick, Mike, the cute walking eyeball, is little Bobby with his peace sign. He's a part of the movie, and he can take home a photo of himself with the lovable creatures.

Standing in front of a blue-screen, little Suzie or perhaps little Bobby makes a peace sign. Over on the 27-inch monitor, beside the blue screen, a scene from Disney’s animated smash-hit movie Monsters, Inc. is displayed. But it’s a little different: in between the giant, blue creature, Sulley, and his sidekick, Mike, the cute walking eyeball, is little Bobby with his peace sign. He’s a part of the movie, and he can take home a photo of himself with the lovable creatures.

This scene played itself out hundreds of times in the parking lots of six Future Shop stores across the nation (Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa and two locations in Toronto) for two days in late September. On top of that, those same parking lots were converted into mini drive-in theatres to play the entire film, as it was the official release date of the Monsters, Inc. DVD.

The promotion proved quite successful for the Burnaby, B.C.-based electronics retailer. Overall, 1,500 people attended the six simultaneous events, and Fred Baral, Future Shop promotions supervisor, re-ports that, ‘DVD and home theatre sales were significantly higher at the event stores.’

The interactive promo was designed and executed by Vancouver-based youth marketing firm Masev Communications. ‘The event was extraordinary; Future Shop’s sales expectations tripled because of the great turnout,’ says Darcy Taylor, president of Masev.

While the idea was to get children out to enjoy the film, their parents were the real prize. When little Suzie was handed the photo of her and Sulley, her parents watched as the latest Hewlett-Packard laser printer produced the image. An HP representative was on hand for technophile parents curious to learn more about such state-of-the-art technology. Sony also put on a demo showcasing a giant, 42-inch plasma television (worth over $15,000). ‘The technology was very prominent. Sales staff were providing product knowledge and experiential sales information,’ Taylor recalls.

Kids and their parents were also encouraged to have their pictures taken in life-sized cutouts of the film’s characters. The only way to retrieve the photos was to log onto futurephoto.com, register and download the file. Daniel Bull, Masev’s account co-ordinator, estimates about 200 people per event registered online.

‘Future Shop wanted to get into the realm of online film development, and this demo not only gave the kids something but it also taught parents about the technology,’ Bull explains.

The Monsters, Inc. promotion followed the success of a similar event for the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring DVD. On Aug. 5, three Future Shop parking lots were transformed into drive-in theatres. Once the climactic ending sequence of the fantasy flick concluded, the three stores (in Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver) opened their doors just after midnight so the throngs of Frodo fans could purchase the DVD. Actors dressed as characters like Gandalf paraded about the scene snapping pictures with moviegoers on a digital camera. Future Shop also did some database compiling, offering people to sign up to win a LOTR DVD.

‘The idea was to also showcase Future Shop’s consumer technology in a fun way,’ Taylor explains. ‘Instead of going to a drive-in with a poor screen that always has a glare and listen to the film on a crappy sound system, we provided state-of-the-art technology to present the film.’

Both the LOTR and Monsters, Inc. release parties were supported by flyers, radio spots and print ads designed in-house by Future Shop.

Future Shop says events such as these are all a part of its youth strategy. While it wants to snag people of all ages, the youth demo is very tech savvy, and the big box store’s slogan ‘Get it here first,’ is geared at them as well.

‘Events like those are ways we can deliver on that promise,’ says Lori DeCou, a spokesperson for the company.

The youth strategy will continue when it opens a new store in early November in north Toronto. DeCou says it will build on the DVD release party concept, and it might also take a page out the gala it threw for the opening of its 100th store – an idea also devised by Masev. In late August, Future Shop took over the Pepsi Forum in Montreal to put on a concert with performances from Canuck hip hopsters Rascals and Swollen Members among others.

‘There are no firm details on what exactly we are going to do yet, but it will certainly be youth-oriented,’ says DeCou. ‘As we grow, we’ve recognized that a huge consumer of the products we sell is youth, so holding events like this adds a little edge to the brand.’