Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) filed for bankruptcy protection in September, but it hasn’t given up on fighting Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) et al. just yet. The company is spending between $15 million and $20 million in part to advertise that it has titles from major studios including Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros. (NYSE: TWX), and Universal Studios available to rent 28 days before its competitors do. Blockbuster has advertised this advantage before, notably in a TV commercial that ran over the summer, but the breadth of this campaign is much larger.
The LATimes, which first reported on the plan, says it’s Blockbuster’s first national ad campaign since 2007. CEO Jim Keyes tells the paper that the company wants “to remind people that we’re still in business.” That’s a sad acknowledgment from a company which as recently as last spring cited the strength of its brand name in arguing that it could still make a big play on the digital front.
A bankruptcy judge approved the big advertising expenditure, according to the LA Times. I tried finding that filing to no avail. One filing I did stumble upon: The company is spending $400,000 on a search for a new CEO. The filing notes that a candidate from within Blockbuster’s current management could ultimately be hired but it looks like Keyes won’t be around when the company emerges from bankruptcy protection, which might happen as soon as this spring.