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DVD Paranoia

The Final Sayye by Gary Kayye By Gary Kayye, CTS

Is the DVD industry paranoid or what?

Earlier this month, I stopped by my local DVD store and purchased a few DVDs for the July 4th holidays -- something to pacify the girls after a play-hard day at the beach (i.e. an electronic babysitter). I always bypass the New Releases section as most of the stuff there I saw just three months earlier. Instead, I start with the Family section where the plethora of Saturday matinee movies that I enjoyed in my youth are now located. There's Sinbad and all of his journeys, Escape From Witch Mountain, The Apple Dumpling Gang and a host of other wholesome DVDs from which to choose -- movies I prefer over enduring the MaryKate and Ashley straight-to-DVD collection.

But what really struck me is how neurotic Hollywood still is with regard to packaging. I started noticing it in the mid-80s as I started replacing my record collection with the so-called scratch-proof CD. You've noticed it too. Think about how long it actually takes you to open a CD after you've purchased it. It's hard enough to find a loose piece of plastic on the shrink-wrapped packaging so that you can tear through to the inside of the CD container. But after completing that laborious task -- which most of us seem to accomplish by using some sort of sharp object, like a car key, to peel back the plastic on the back of the CD -- you're still only about a third of the way there. Now you must find a way to remove the clear, plastic sticker from the front cover of the CD - you know, the one that is apparently applied using Super Glue. Half the time, I end up breaking the CD case or wearing the skin off a few fingers. Warning, ladies, don't even go near these things with your manicured fingernails! 

But this is nothing compared to what I went through yesterday to open four dang DVDs. The DVD market is beyond obsessed; they're paranoid! As we all know, they use the same hard-core plastic shrink-wrap packaging that the CD industry uses. But loathe to use just one of those Super Glue-based stickers on the spine, they use three of them -- one on the spine, one on the top and one on the bottom of the DVD case. This is ridiculous. It is impossible to cleanly remove all the, apparently, theft-proof packaging and leave the DVD case intact.

What is going on here? Is DVD theft really that bad? Heck, they have electronic sensors in all the DVD stores, cameras mounted all over the place and, according to the IRMA (International Recording Media Association), the theft problem isn't centered on the stores, but the theaters themselves -- kids taking handi-cams into theaters and recording first-run movies and selling them on the Internet to Chinese video pirates.

So, what is the deal with all the adult-proof packaging?

And it's not stopping with DVDs. All sorts of small electronics (i.e. portable CD players, headphones, memory cards and even cameras) are now packaged in plastic molded containers that require the use of scissors, and a lot of patience, just to keep from cutting yourself -- not with the scissors but with the plastic packaging. Known in the packaging industry as a blister pack, its design is based on the principal that shrink-wrapped hard plastic takes up less space in shipping containers and saves us all money -- while apparently preventing theft. And like with the CD and DVD packaging, you can't even use your teeth!

Hey Hollywood, isn't all of this unnecessary packaging polluting the environment? Recently I've started taking my own tote bags to the grocery store -- a bit part to save the world's landfills from a few plastic bags (it also makes me inconspicuous when perusing the aisles at the local Whole Foods). I admit I've been a half-hearted recycler in the past, but perhaps I have found my crusade. Save the environment, save your fingernails, unite with me fellow Americans and just say no to paranoid packaging!

Reprinted with permission from Sound & Communications magazine.

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Gary Kayye, CTS is Chief Visionary at Kayye Consulting, Inc., a Chapel Hill, NC-based marketing consulting firm that serves the ProAV and Home Theater markets. In addition to strategic marketing consulting, Kayye Consulting, Inc. is also a training development company. Gary can be reached via e-mail at gkayye@kayye.com or through his Web site at www.kayye.com.
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