RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME

When Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the Murphy Brown television show a few years ago, nobody knew that he was igniting a national debate that would eventually affect video in supermarkets. That much is clear now. As you may remember, Brown thought it was very contemporary to have a baby solo; that is, without a husband and father cluttering a progressive household. Quayle in effect said her

When Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the Murphy Brown television show a few years ago, nobody knew that he was igniting a national debate that would eventually affect video in supermarkets. That much is clear now. As you may remember, Brown thought it was very contemporary to have a baby solo; that is, without a husband and father cluttering a progressive household. Quayle in effect said her plan was contrary to recorded history and life as we know it. The politically correct crew howled. But Quayle started the country thinking about kids and families and how they are affected by popular entertainment. Family values was an important issue during the 1992 presidential campaign. In fact, during that year the Dove Foundation unveiled its Dove Seal, which is like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for family-oriented videos. Despite some suspicion at first by some supermarket executives, the Dove Seal is still with us and is doing well.

The family values issue is emerging again during this year's presidential campaign. "You should create movies, CDs and television shows you would want your own children and grandchildren to enjoy," President Clinton told Hollywood during a joint session of Congress in last month's nationally televised State of the Union address.

Today there are new family labels from several studios, such as Warner Family Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Family Features, MCA/Universal Family Treasures and the Columbia Tri-Star Family Collection. They are finding a receptive audience in food stores. Of course, supermarkets have always had the demographics and traffic to make children's and family videos a hit. But this could be the year that grocers move to the next level of sales for two key reasons: one, there are more titles, and therefore more opportunity, than ever to capitalize on children's video; and two, more shoppers than ever think of the supermarket when it's time to buy or rent videos. "There seems to be an increasing consumer demand for family films, and that is very good news for supermarkets," said Bill Bryant of Ingram Entertainment (see story on Page 44).

With these thoughts in mind, SN presents this special supplement. In many ways, the mix of stories reflects how retailers are reacting to the increasing popularity of children's and family video and the recent abundance of first-rate titles. For example, some retailers are content to offer separate sections for family-oriented titles. Others are mixing them into the regular rental sections and are using the Dove Seal to distinguish the titles. As for sell-through, retailers are re-examining where to merchandise the product -- only in the video department, in the main part of the store, or in several satellite displays throughout the store. Grocers still have the traffic and the demographics. They are now in the right place at the right time with the right product.