Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Does Tesco have a role to play in steamy blockbusters?

Britain's biggest supermarket has launched a multimillion-pound film production arm to adapt the novels of popular authors such as Jackie Collins for exclusive DVD distribution through its stores.

NO - TREVOR BISH-JONES, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MYPEOPLEBIZ.COM

Tesco's huge success is driven by superb customer insight and/or aggressive pricing. The desire to offer exclusive product is a natural way for it to seek to differentiate its entertainment offer and build margin. It will work in a limited way because of the initial hype, but I question its longevity as a strategy.

Securing film, TV or music rights isn't buying potatoes. The talent controls the intellectual property and the cost of the better, more marketable rights rises exponentially. Supplier-switching is not an option: if you want Ricky Gervais, there is only one.

The entertainment industry knows that to obtain maximum value from its rights the widest distribution is needed to capture the maximum number of sales. So in the long term, Tesco making DVDs only stacks up if it convinces the industry that it, as a solus channel, will sell more than making the product ubiquitously available - unlikely, methinks. Now, bringing me a bank that's cheap and doesn't rip me off may not be as sexy as Hollywood, but it feels a better Tesco fit.

NO - ANDREW MCGUINNESS, PARTNER, BEATTIE MCGUINNESS BUNGAY

My dad used to tell me that when you have more children, it's not that you're forced to divide your love among more offspring, but, rather, that your total amount of love multiplies.

You may wonder where I'm going with this. Well, I've long thought the same to be true of brand extensions: when you get it right, the stature and status of your brand multiplies. I like Apple more for having extended into phones, not less. Get it wrong, though, and its overall power diminishes, it divides. The impact: the double whammy of an inappropriately branded product and a weaker brand.

For Tesco, as a tactical way of tapping into additional revenues in the DVD market via a period of exclusivity in store, this initiative works; but, from its excited press releases, it appears that its ambitions are greater. As a means of extending the Tesco brand into the creation of its own entertainment, rather than retailing that of others, I'm afraid the filming of an old Jackie Collins number won't deepen my love.

YES - BEN STEPHENS, MARKETING PARTNER, STEPHENS FRANCIS WHITSON

Well, not literally 'yes' - I can't see Sir Terry Leahy moving in the same circles as the bed hopping, pill-popping tycoons, models and heiresses who populate Jackie Collins' novels - but the retailer has little to lose from this deal.

With big brand-owners falling over themselves to get their products on Tesco's shelves, space is at a premium. No doubt Amber Productions, the company making the films in collaboration with Tesco, will be shouldering most of the cost, so for the supermarket this is win-win partnership marketing, and another boost for its non-food offering. It sells TVs and DVD players; entertainment is a natural extension.

For real proof, just visit a Tesco outlet. The retailer sells £1.5m worth of books a week, most of which are in the Jackie Collins genre. What is the worst case scenario? Sex and supermarkets don't mix? No problem. There are plenty more brand-owners out there who will take up that vacant shelf space.

YES - RICHARD EXON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, RKCR/Y&R

Love it or hate it, Tesco can have a role in pretty much any sector it chooses. The level of investment required won't be a problem, it has the means of distribution and the ability to cross-promote at will.

Assuming for a moment that the objective is to offer customers something they enjoy, rather than win the Palme d'Or at Cannes, it's hard to see where the risk is for Tesco.

Theoretically, there may be a marginal danger that this non-core offering means management and staff take their eye off the grocery ball, but, to date, most UK extensions of Tesco's estate have been flawless.

We will only know whether it has worked, of course, when Sainsbury's copies the move, thus heralding in the 'Supermarket Smut Wars'. Who knows where that could take us? But the steamy DVD Try Something New Today may be worth avoiding.

- For more discussion, visit marketingmagazine.co.uk

The Marketing Society is the most influential network of senior marketers dedicated to championing marketing in the UK.

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