I’m extremely pleased to announce that I’ve been asked to contribute with the redesign of Blockbuster.com.
In general, it’s always enormously flattering when a national brand contacts you to pitch in, but it’s especially exciting in this case, because: A.) I’m a freelancer now, and it’s fairly rare for gigs like this to go to individuals outside of an agency, B.) the brand has been in a bit of trouble, which makes their trust all that more meaningful, and the job all that more challenging, and C.) I get to work with some amazing people.
Since their acquisition by Dish Network, Blockbuster’s creative team has been largely re-staffed with locally-grown talent from their new home in Colorado, and I feel incredibly lucky to be working with the people they’ve chosen to lead their new print and web initiatives.
Newly appointed Creative Director, Jerry Lundwall, headed the highly acclaimed creative department at The Denver Post during it’s peak, and the Senior UI Developer, Danny Vigil, has been a principal at several well-respected Denver agencies, as well as working diligently with the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council for many years.
I’ve known Danny for a long time, collaborating with him on a website for Andrisen Morton, back in the day, and I couldn’t be happier to be working with him again. He’s truly talented, a tireless worker, and one of the most genuinely decent, kind, good-natured people I know. We’re only three days into the project, and I can already tell this is going to be a TON of fun.
What’s most impressed me so far has been Blockbuster’s candidness and honesty about their recent difficulties. They’re a company who once had an enormous amount of integrity, success, and good will, and let’s be honest– they blew it.
They failed to recognize Netflix’s DVD-by-mail model as the stroke of genius it was, and they got trounced. They also didn’t see the success of RedBox coming. Two HUGE mistakes. Lastly, the took a beating in the press– and rightfully so — for some ethically questionable practices with their late fees. They failed to innovate, they got complacent, and they violated the trust of their customers. And it bit them in the ass. BIG TIME.
And to be totally frank, they got what they deserved; bankruptcy.
But here’s the thing– they know it.
Granted, my interaction has been extremely limited, but the people I’ve spoken to have painted a convincing picture of a company who readily admits they screwed up, is deeply embarrassed about it, and is making a sincere, earnest effort to make things right. And even though they’ve re-staffed most of their personnel, there still seems to be a genuine sense of culpability and candidness on their campus.
Even though most of the new employees had absolutely nothing to do with the company’s prior problems, I got the impression they were determined to make things right. I don’t know — maybe I’m hopelessly naive — but I have to respect that these people were willing to pick up the brand, dust if off, and get to work earning the respect and trust of their customers again. Even though it wasn’t their fault, the people I met with were all completely willing to take on the incredibly challenging job of setting the company back on the path to respectability and success. And I have to admire that.
If a guy like Danny Vigil, who I know to be a summarily decent, ethical, hard-working human being, thinks Blockbuster is a brand worth saving, then that’s good enough for me.
Yes, I have bills to pay, and I was flattered to have a big corporation contact me, but honestly, my choice came down to this: I like Danny Vigil. I trust him. He’s my friend.
And he asked me to help. So I said yes.
Simple as that.