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'The Little Engine' Now Rolling as a Video

April 16, 1993

MCA/Universal just released its half-hour, made-for-video adaptation of "The Little Engine That Could," the inspirational, 63-year-old children's classic about an engine pulling a trainload of toys over a treacherous, snow-packed mountain, chugging "I think I can."

The marketing plan, though, for this tape, which is priced at $13, is unusual: Air it on TV first.

So for about two weeks--the end of March through early April--during Easter vacation, "Little Engine," geared to preschoolers, was telecast once on 56 independent stations around the country.

Andrew Kairey, MCA/Universal's senior VP of marketing and sales, claims this is a first.

"No one before has taken a tape made for home video and aired it on TV to get its initial exposure. We wanted parents to see it on TV and then create a demand for it at retail. We wanted to create a word-of-mouth advertising buzz among moms and play groups. The point was to drive people into the stores over Easter."

But wouldn't some parents tape the show rather than buy it?

"That's not a problem," Kairey insisted. "There won't be enough taping to harm the market. Any loss due to taping will be compensated for by the helpful word-of-mouth to those who didn't see it."

Apparently the plan worked. MCA/Universal doesn't reveal figures to the media but some distributors speculated that the company shipped several hundred thousand copies to assorted video outlets.

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