PR: What Not to Do: Undercutting Your Retail Partners
October 26, 2010

What exactly defines a release date? If a publisher says that they’re the only ones who can sell their product starting today, but any other retailer won’t have any stock until November, then is the release date today, or are they just making pre-sales (as comic publishers sometimes do at conventions) against a release date in November?

I’m asking this question because I got this rather odd press release for the Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods DVD. Its message seems to be “don’t wait! buy from us now!” which strikes me as a good way to get retailers to avoid buying your products in future. (Maybe this DVD is a one-off from the production studio, and they don’t have to worry about burning their bridges by sniping customers.) Here’s the press release opening:

Grant Morrison Talking With Gods cover
Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods
Buy this DVD

It was confirmed today that retail is back-ordered on the DVD “GRANT MORRISON: TALKING WITH GODS” until November 22nd. However, all pre-orders made at www.halo8store.com are still scheduled to ship on the official street date October 26th, and Halo-8 has confirmed that new orders made at the site will continue to ship on time.

It’s that last sentence that would annoy me, if I was a retailer. They tend to get very touchy if publishers are perceived as competing with them. Publishers get a temporary advantage, in taking in more profit from items sold directly, but it may not be the smartest move long-term, as retailers stop ordering your product.

Then again, maybe it doesn’t matter. Amazon, for example, has simply listed the DVD release date as November 22. To the public, a release date is whenever they can buy it, and for those who may stumble across this or have already pre-ordered from a retailer, the disc comes out in November.

Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods is described as a feature-length documentary on the “mysterious and iconic” comic book writer that “examines Morrison’s 30-year career and the real-life events that inspired his stories. … The film also gives insight into his creative process, including a look into his vaunted idea notebooks. Complementing Morrison’s own words are interviews with many of his most important collaborators, including Warren Ellis, Geoff Johns, Douglas Rushkoff, Frank Quitely, Dan DiDio, Frazer Irving, Phil Jimenez, Cameron Stewart, Jill Thompson, Mark Waid, and others.”

It was directed by Patrick Meaney, produced by Amber Yoder, and shot by Jordan Rennert. Halo-8 (another of those “transmedia” studios) president Matt Pizzolo is quoted as saying, “Patrick, Amber, and Jordan have put together a smart, slick, and insightful film that offers a deeper look at the writer without demystifying him… that’s no simple feat.”

View other examples of what not to do.

One Response  
Matt Pizzolo writes:  

Thanks for covering the fact that this DVD is back-ordered at retail. We thought it was important for people who’ve pre-ordered the DVD to understand the situation, so any coverage certainly helps.

We didn’t change the street date, the DVD is just back-ordered… which means there was not sufficient product in time to meet demand, so not all retailers can receive their orders simultaneously.

Amazon takes pre-orders but doesn’t charge the customer until the order ships, so if their stock doesn’t arrive they can change the date no harm, no foul.

However, for our pre-order sales at cons and on our website we don’t have a system of automatically charging when the DVD ships–our system charges when the order is placed… so we felt any street date change would be unfair to customers who paid in advance with the expectation that their DVDs would ship to them at the end of October.

We try to treat all our customers in good faith, whether they are retail stores or individual customers. In this case, we believed it was important to fulfill pre-paid customer orders on time while working as quickly as possible to prevent any ongoing delays at retail.

We’ve been producing and distributing films to retail (as well as theaters and television) since 2005, and we take our responsibility to our customers (both retail stores and individuals) very seriously.

We didn’t publicly announce that news release on our website precisely because we don’t want to cannibalize retail sales. We sent it to assure the writers/journalists/critics/bloggers who’ve been helping us spread the word about Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods that we would treat their audiences who pre-ordered the DVD with the value and appreciation they deserve.


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