News you didn’t expect in your 2023 bingo card: Blockbuster (which apparently still exists) is releasing a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl.
In true Blockbuster fashion, the ad will run exclusively on VHS.
Instead of buying a national or regional spot, Blockbuster’s ad will play exclusively at a watch party held at its last standing store in Bend, Ore. by store manager Sandi Harding, credited with keeping the store open for 15 years, for a group of lucky fans.
The VHS will also be available for rent afterward, for just $2 a day.
Created by independent agency Atlantic New York and directed by NYC-based indie filmmakers Theodore Schaefer and Paul Gale, the ad, called Until the Bitter End, nods nostalgically to the days of VHS video rental stores as it depicts an apocalyptic scene on Earth. A lowly cockroach makes a journey through post-apocalyptic debris and buildings reduced to rubble. People are gone, the internet has stopped streaming, but the world’s last Blockbuster is still standing – open and ready to welcome survivors.
The spot is a tribute to Blockbuster’s last standing store in Bend, which has gained somewhat of a cult following. It’s also taking the opportunity to lean into the release of Netflix’s workplace comedy series called Blockbuster in November, about a fictional group of people working at the last-standing Blockbuster store. The objective is to increase brand awareness to help the store add new members and sell merchandise.
Prior to revealing the full spot on Super Bowl Sunday, Blockbuster will post teasers staggered throughout two weeks on social media.
“We know that the world as we know it may be coming to an end, but we refuse to go down without a fight,” said Blockbuster store manager Sandi Harding in a press release. "We want to remind everyone that there's something special about the tangible experience of browsing the shelves and discovering something new. And honestly, if the world is ending, we want to go out with a bang."
As the last Blockbuster, the Bend store has become an essential part of the community and a big tourist attraction for l travelers looking to relive the nostalgia of renting a VHS tape.
Since the store became the last Blockbuster on earth in March 2019, the Bend location has welcomed over 5,000 new memberships and sells T-shirts, souvenirs and memorabilia.
Dan Greener, creative director of Atlantic New York, described the campaign in a press release as a heartfelt cheer for “the little guy.”
“We figured that America loves rooting for the little guy, so perhaps they might find it in their hearts to root for one of its littlest,” he said. “Maybe in the process, we can celebrate what the Big Game is all about: gathering around a screen with your friends and family to watch something special happen. An experience Blockbuster happens to know a thing or two about.”
Those who are unable to attend the Super Bowl watch party in person (all you have to do is show up and walk in) will be able to tune into a live stream on the World's Last Blockbuster's Instagram page to catch a glimpse of the commercial.
Blockbuster declined to share how much it spent on the production, but noted that the idea was to “purposefully make something very low-budget that could hijack and participate in the Sunday conversation.”