‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ eye-catching packaging sparks confusion

March 26, 2012

The packaging community was buzzing about "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Not because people just couldn't wait to watch the American take on the best-selling book, but because the polycarbonate disc's decoration, or lack thereof, caused quite a bit of turmoil.

Sony Pictures designed the recently released DVD to look like a pirated copy, with the film's title written in a black marker on a blank disk. The idea behind this packaging marketing ploy was an apparent nod to the movie's character Lisbeth Salander, an expert computer hacker.  

However, many consumers missed the marketing memo, and thought they had purchased or rented a bootleg DVD. Apparently the design was so believable that it looked like a fake. Still with me?

Since it was difficult to distinguish the packaging from an illegal copy, Redbox and Amazon had to clarify the packaging's purpose.

Redbox put this warning on its site, "NOTE TO RENTERS: The handwritten look on the disc of this movie is legitimate and is intended to look like a burned DVD."

Amazon also stated, "It has come to our attention that there has been some confusion on the DVD disc art as it appears to look like a bootlegged copy. Please note that the disc art is in fact the final approved disc art provided to us by the filmmakers."

Midwest Tape, a media distributor that works with public libraries, issued an apology for any confusion and stated: "This is the authentic DVD direct from Sony Pictures. Sony designed the DVD and its packaging to reflect the theme of the movie and its popular hacker protagonist, Lisbeth Salander."

A commenter on the Midwest Tape's site appreciated the warning: "i ALMOST had a fit and returned this to Redbox... thanks for the post."

This isn't the first time Hollywood decided to play around with a DVD packaging design, but it might serve as a lesson. After all, packaging is not just about decoration and marketing schemes, but also to generate product awareness. Confusion about a particular product is probably not the best way to help increase sales.

What do you think about this packaging marketing ploy? Smart marketing move, or is it a packaging fail?

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