Blockbuster Offers Journalists Bribes For Anti-Netflix Tweets

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Blockbuster Offers Journalists Bribes For Anti-Netflix Tweets

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Contrary to Brendan Behan's logic, there is such a thing as bad publicity, and this is some really bad publicity.

No one can say that the past few weeks have been easy for Netflix, what with the outraged customers and stock market pummeling it's been dealing with, but these have been nothing compared to the last couple of years that Blockbuster Video has been having. Not only has the rental company shut down the vast majority of its stores, faded away into bankruptcy, and lost out on the deal that may have helped the chain survive, but now it's been caught trying to bribe journalists in exchange for some positive press.

Following Netflix's announcement that it was going to spin off its DVD mail service (which would also feature game rentals) into a new company called Qwickster, Blockbuster apparently decided that it wanted to capitalize on the tough time its competitor was facing. According to Side Questing, Ryan Davis of Giant Bomb was contacted, via Twitter, by Blockbuster's official Twitter account. The message stated that if Davis announced he was leaving Netflix in favor of Blockbuster Total Access (Blockbuster's competing DVD mail service), he would receive a year's worth of service free of charge.

Davis, unsurprisingly, took a screenshot and posted it, seen at right. It turns out he wasn't the only journalist Blockbuster attempted to bribe; Hunch.com's Chris Dixon and Time.com's Harry McCracken both revealed that the same offer had been tweeted at them, too.

Blockbuster, meanwhile, has announced a new contest on Twitter. Basically, if readers were willing to publicly tweet that they were going to leave Netflix, the reason for their departure, and include the hash-tag "#GoodbyeNetflix", they would be entered into a random drawing for the same free one-year subscription that was offered to Davis.

Nothing about Blockbuster's offer is actually illegal, but it's certainly on the scummy side of the spectrum. Not only that, but it also shows a pretty stunning lack of common sense; when you attempt to bribe journalists, you shouldn't be surprised when they call you out in public. The fact that the company didn't have the good grace to even acknowledge that what it did was wrong is even more stunning.

Source: Side Questing

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All the blockbusters in my area have shut down. Actually I had thought all of them were shutting down. I guess in hard times they're willing to do anything to garner business.

HAHA, morons! I mean, a cash bribe may have worked if it were substantial enough, but this is just ridiculous. I had a gamefly account with my roommate. We got two games at a time for $20 per month. I mean, that works out to only $120 per year, each... that is a shit bribe. They deserve what comes to them.

On the other hand, it's almost like offering for free with a "like" on facebook. Just the negative version of it. It just seems like really terrible marketing from that perspective.

I'm taking the "it's fake" route

nobody would be stupid enough to offer a bribe through god damn Twitter

Uh, yeah. Free for a year from a business that's on it's way down the toilet. Yeah. Good luck finding someone foolish enough to take that offer.

teh_Canape:
I'm taking the "it's fake" route

nobody would be stupid enough to offer a bribe through god damn Twitter

Now you say that, but history has shown that people have an immense capacity for stupid when they're desperate.

Blockbuster still exists?

I was not aware...

Kind of a weird thing to do, I mean if they were smart and just ramped up advertising for their own stuff then they could have grabbed some of the market. Trying to pull this sort of thing almost never works once it becomes known.

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The thing that takes the boneheadedness up to eleven is communication with JOURNALISTS (who get paid more for these kinds of stories) on TWITTER (a public network).

Did this idea undergo any common sense checks? I'm thinking "No".

If this is real, power to the press.

This is integrity at its finest. Though, to be fair, Blockbuster could have sent anonymous tips and actual money instead of subscriptions.

20 years ago when Blockbuster was relevant. A small chain video rental store open in my town across the street from Blockbuster. They offered a free first movie rental with membership if you turned in your Blockbuster card, which they then stapled up behind the counter.

Now it's come full circle.

teh_Canape:
I'm taking the "it's fake" route

nobody would be stupid enough to offer a bribe through god damn Twitter

https://twitter.com/#!/blockbuster/status/117014288446652418

You sure about that?

I'm glad Blockbuster is going out of business now.

Screw those guys. They're just mad that Netflix came up with a really great idea first.

Looks like Blockbuster's attempt to buy Giant Bomb really blew up in their faces

Baresark:
HAHA, morons! I mean, a cash bribe may have worked if it were substantial enough, but this is just ridiculous. I had a gamefly account with my roommate. We got two games at a time for $20 per month. I mean, that works out to only $120 per year, each... that is a shit bribe. They deserve what comes to them.

On the other hand, it's almost like offering for free with a "like" on facebook. Just the negative version of it. It just seems like really terrible marketing from that perspective.

And funny thing is, least for me, that $120 only equals to 12 games... or just twelve weeks of a game. I've never been a fan of Blockbuster, there was the occasional chance I rented from them when they had that 1-week grace period that pretty much turned a one-week rental into a two, or even three week long game rental for free but when that stopped? Yeah... the price is absurd, and so was trying to return something before noon.

So, why is it Blockbuster in the UK seems to be of a different breed than Blockbuster in the US? Here, Blockbuster is still going strong and actually offers a decent service. Over there, suddenly everything sounds like Bizzaro Blockbuster.

Blockbuster got saved by Dish Networks and Netflix is going down the tubes. I even read that Starz left Netflix and joined up with Blockbuster, not sure how true that is.

I think Netflix is wounded and competitors can smell the blood. I looked into getting Amazon Prime today as a possible replacement for Netflix and I know I am not the only one looking for an alternative to Netflix.

Wait, wait, wait...Blockbuster still exists? I thought that it was chillin' with Dinosaurs and Dodo birds right now.

OT: If that's true it's pretty shady.

mew4ever23:
Uh, yeah. Free for a year from a business that's on it's way down the toilet. Yeah. Good luck finding someone foolish enough to take that offer.

FREE you say?

I'LL TAKE IT!

In all seriousness, this isn't illegal. But I certainly don't see them winning over any good faith for this. I could go on a list of reasons why Blockbuster sucks - their prices for a single DVD instantly were almost as much as a month subscription for unlimited movies per month (only one or two at a time out of course), which took 1 business day to arrive. Their customer service was aweful, their selection of games and DVD's was awful, and good luck getting a hold of a new release via rental for a while.

Seriously, it only lasted because services like Netflix and Redbox didn't exist. Once people could get media, en masse, cheaply, often with a better selection, there was no need for Blockbuster. Netflix and Redbox don't require you to keep an extra ID, which you are charged for getting. Even the worst part of Netflixes service - the Instant Queue, is vastly more appealing than the idea of Blockbuster - the video selection was pretty much the same and atleast it lets me watch seasons of TV shows.

I don't see people going back to Blockbuster. Its a company that went under once - people usually don't have faith in companies like that. Its a new guy in a market that will eat it alive if it can't supply a constant pump of new releases. It's gonna lose out against competition that can offer streaming content, Video Game rentals, etc. And good luck getting people to capitalize on your product when the company that just had a weak spot in its armor offered a free month of service to EVERY customer that has stopped using their product as an appology to their loyalist. That seems a hell of a lot better than being entered for a CHANCE to win a free year of service.

People aren't idiot. They don't like to be messed around with, and will fight you tooth and nail over EVERYTHING. Thats what sparks competition. People don't like when companies try to play them as suckers and play dirty. If you show no shame in dealing with competition, how will you deal with customers?

What they did was not illegal, but I can guarentee it won't be helping them much in the long run either.

I just checked the hashtag #GoodbyeNetflix on twitter to see the responses. Most of them were people tweeting the news, followed closely by people making fun of Blockbuster saying they weren't leaving Netflix and one was legitimately leaving because of the name Qwickster. I don't know why I find this interesting or why any of you would, but now you know.

j0frenzy:
I just checked the hashtag #GoodbyeNetflix on twitter to see the responses. Most of them were people tweeting the news, followed closely by people making fun of Blockbuster saying they weren't leaving Netflix and one was legitimately leaving because of the name Qwickster. I don't know why I find this interesting or why any of you would, but now you know.

Funny, I was expecting more "I want to leave Netflix but Blockbuster closed all its stores in my area. #GoodbyeBothOfYou"

I don't think this counts as a bribe...they are actually just making the same offer to journalists that they are making to everyone else. That doesn't really seem like a bribe to journalists in particular. More like a universal business promotion.

mew4ever23:
Uh, yeah. Free for a year from a business that's on it's way down the toilet. Yeah. Good luck finding someone foolish enough to take that offer.

What does someone lose by having something that is FREE? Even if it only actually lasts a month. It's still a free month.

Hells yeah i'll take that bribe. I think the only fricken blockbuster left in the state (which has no 'going out of business signs) is like 1/2 a mile from my house.

It's not like anyone actually reads an average joe's twitter anyway. Unless you're a famous person, then tons of people follow you.

edit: Before you say anything i live in the 'country' outside of a major city. So I have to drive into town to get my mail anyway, (IE Netflix) and my internet is shit for streaming anything... so yeah.

vansau:

Contrary to Brandon Behan's logic, there is such a thing as bad publicity, and this is some really bad publicity.

Sorry if this seem's overly picky, but it's Brendan Behan...

It's strange, the blockbuster in my town shows no sign of shutting down, and I live in the ass end of nowhere, more or less. Unless it's going to quietly pack up it's bags in the middle of the night, I see no sign of it going anywhere. Then again, the Australian stores might just be doing better that the American ones, in which case, go Australia!

aashell13:
Blockbuster still exists?

I was not aware...

In Australia they are still alive and well. The Australian brand is seperate from the US brand and is thriving thanks to... IDK what! The download limits are getting bigger for less (Telstra recently bumped up my 25GB plan to 100GB at no extra charge!) and digital distribution is fast becoming a viable means of acquiring multimedia as speeds slowly improve to what they should be according to the ads in the first place!

Wow, trying to bride Ryan Davis, the colleague of Jeff Gertsmann both from GiantBomb a website that was set up after the Jeff's departure from GameSpot.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Gerstmann

I mean on its own its a stupid idea, coupled with Jeff's history... that's fucking outstanding Blockbuster

Ser Imp:
Looks like Blockbuster's attempt to buy Giant Bomb really blew up in their faces

HOLD ON A MINUTE!

Much better.

Bias reporting. This isn't "scummy" at all. It's no different than a company running an ad on TV where they have customers saying product A is better than product B. It happens all the time.

Blockbuster may be going down the shitter, and I may not shed a tear for them when they eventually die, but don't go and get your panties in a bunch because they are trying to capitalize on their competitor being assholes by trying to charge their customers twice as much.

Besides, Escapist employees, don't ever say you haven't been offered as well as accepted gifts, you know, at like a gaming convention. I believe you guys call it swag. It may not explicitly be to give a good review, but it does make you look favorably on whomever gave it to you. It happens in all forms of business. Hell, it even happens in government. I'm sure you've heard of lobbyists.

I saw we all start doing @blockbuster with the hashtag #stillnotusingyourshitservice

Low Key:
Bias reporting. This isn't "scummy" at all. It's no different than a company running an ad on TV where they have customers saying product A is better than product B. It happens all the time.

Blockbuster may be going down the shitter, and I may not shed a tear for them when they eventually die, but don't go and get your panties in a bunch because they are trying to capitalize on their competitor being assholes by trying to charge their customers twice as much.

Besides, Escapist employees, don't ever say you haven't been offered as well as accepted gifts, you know, at like a gaming convention. I believe you guys call it swag. It may not explicitly be to give a good review, but it does make you look favorably on whomever gave it to you. It happens in all forms of business. Hell, it even happens in government. I'm sure you've heard of lobbyists.

Perhaps, but I'm pretty sure they don't give you the 'swag' under the condition that you publicly say you'd rather play their game rather than anyone else's.

Denamic:

Low Key:
Bias reporting. This isn't "scummy" at all. It's no different than a company running an ad on TV where they have customers saying product A is better than product B. It happens all the time.

Blockbuster may be going down the shitter, and I may not shed a tear for them when they eventually die, but don't go and get your panties in a bunch because they are trying to capitalize on their competitor being assholes by trying to charge their customers twice as much.

Besides, Escapist employees, don't ever say you haven't been offered as well as accepted gifts, you know, at like a gaming convention. I believe you guys call it swag. It may not explicitly be to give a good review, but it does make you look favorably on whomever gave it to you. It happens in all forms of business. Hell, it even happens in government. I'm sure you've heard of lobbyists.

Perhaps, but I'm pretty sure they don't give you the 'swag' under the condition that you publicly say you'd rather play their game rather than anyone else's.

Are you an Escapist employee? That comment was meant for them, and I expanded on it with "but it does make you look favorably on whomever gave it to you", meaning they may not say nice things about said company, but they are less inclined to say bad things about them as well. It works both ways, especially when a bad review is more detrimental than a good review is helpful in the video game industry. So if there was any confusion about what I said, I hope that cleared it up for you.

No way!? A dying company uses slightly shady business practices in order to stay afloat? I would never have dreamt of such a thing...

Anyway, so what? Companies exist to make money, and if they go bankrupt, a lot of people lose a lot of money and their jobs. This was only the wrong thing to do for them because it gives them bad publicity, not because it's somewhat distasteful, because that's just business.

Who the hell would take a bribe like that. If Blockbuster was smart they'd have offered a decent amount of cash.

Talk about stingy.

Low Key:
So if there was any confusion about what I said, I hope that cleared it up for you.

Mmm, nope.
You pretty much just ignored my point and repeated yourself.
Well whatever.

Low Key:
Bias reporting. This isn't "scummy" at all. It's no different than a company running an ad on TV where they have customers saying product A is better than product B. It happens all the time.

Blockbuster may be going down the shitter, and I may not shed a tear for them when they eventually die, but don't go and get your panties in a bunch because they are trying to capitalize on their competitor being assholes by trying to charge their customers twice as much.

Besides, Escapist employees, don't ever say you haven't been offered as well as accepted gifts, you know, at like a gaming convention. I believe you guys call it swag. It may not explicitly be to give a good review, but it does make you look favorably on whomever gave it to you. It happens in all forms of business. Hell, it even happens in government. I'm sure you've heard of lobbyists.

Well it is scummy even if it does happen all the time. As if we all love lobbyists.

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