When you’re the last lone surviving store in any industry, you’ve earned the right to have fun and hype it up. That’s exactly what the only remaining store of the Blockbuster video rental chain is doing, and it’s during the Super Bowl. And it helps if you still have a VCR, of course.
The store in Bend, Oregon has been teasing an upcoming ad on Instagram @blockbusterbend with a post that says, “Is the world coming to an end or is Blockbuster releasing its first commercial in a really, really long time” Yes. See you on 2/12/23.”
Oh, and, in a hint that the world may be coming to an end, cockroaches feature prominently in these posts.
Another post instructs how to watch the commercial: “On 2.12.23 visit The Last Blockbuster in Bend, or watch live on our Instagram at halftime.”
If you miss it because, of course, Rihanna, the store is also renting VHS copies of it for $2.
So what if the ad isn’t in the big leagues, like Budweiser or Coca-Cola with a national spot? For this one store, it’s an attempt at generating buzz, no matter how big or hyperlocal.
And it seems to be working.
The store has been getting lots of calls since the teasers surfaced this week. “Everyone who calls is super excited, and they want to know more,” said Sandi Harding, the store’s general manager, in an interview with CNN Business.
“I wanted to do two things with the ad. One was to show that small businesses can also do creative and fun things for Super Bowl, and it’s not just an opportunity for the big companies and their big ads,” she said. “We also want people to remember us, that we are here and our store is exactly the way a Blockbuster store was in the 1990s.”
At one time, Blockbuster operated more than 9,000 stores nationwide renting movies and video games. But the advent of on-demand service like Netflix pushed it out of business.
Blockbuster stores fell one by one, with only 10 left in 2017, and then just one.
The location in Bend, Oregon is the only evidence left to prove to GenZers that Blockbuster actually did exist, and it’s how Americans watched movies at home pre-Netflix.
The store regularly uses its status as fun fodder for tens of thousands of its followers on TikTok and Instagram, and it’s been the subject, ironically, of a Netflix documentary about its corporate demise.
Adding a quirky ad during Super Bowl is just par for the course for this holdout from a bygone era.