The World's Last Blockbuster Has A Super Bowl Ad You'll Need A VHS Player To See
  • Feb. 3, 2023 3:45 pm EST

Nostalgia is a funny thing. It's powerful, this feeling that reminds us of things we loved from an earlier time in our lives. Many cinephiles have bitter feelings towards Blockbuster, the movie and video game rental chain that pushed many mom and pop stores out of business, but others (myself included) have fond memories of the blue-and-yellow stores. In the semi-rural area where I spent my adolescence, Blockbuster Video was the only rental game in town, and it was my oasis from the drudgery of being a creative movie nerd in the middle of football and cornhole country. These days, Blockbuster is almost entirely a thing of nostalgia, but The Last Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon, is still managing to hang on through some creative marketing and tourism. 

The store, which was featured in the Netflix documentary "The Last Blockbuster," is running a Super Bowl ad in the most on-brand way possible: by releasing it on VHS cassette tapes that can be rented from the store. It's probably only a matter of time before someone manages to rip the VHS to a digital format and upload it online, but hopefully the good folks in Bend can make some money for their store and keep the last Blockbuster alive a little bit longer. 

Watch the ad for the ad

There's no way to see the actual advertisement (yet), since it's only on VHS tapes and hasn't been officially released, but the Last Blockbuster has revealed their teaser for the ad and the event tied to it. The teaser plays on the old joke about the only things that can survive an apocalypse: In this instance, it's cockroaches and the Last Blockbuster. According to AdWeek, the Last Blockbuster will be releasing their 30-second ad, called "Until the Bitter End," on Super Bowl Sunday. Advertisements played during the Super Bowl itself are notoriously expensive, so the brick-and-mortar store will be doing things the analog way by renting out their commercial on VHS.

The commercial will debut during the shop's in-person Super Bowl watch party, but after that it will be released exclusively on VHS with a $2 a day rental fee. The above teaser was dropped on the store's Instagram page, along with a video of a cockroach running across the checkout counter with "Something big is happening" appearing on the screen in Blockbuster's classic DOS setup. (I worked at Blockbuster for a while, and some of the codes are still burned into my muscle memory. Seeing that screen is truly a blast from the past.) 

This isn't the first big publicity stunt from the store in Bend, as they also had a "The Last Blockbuster" beer and rented out space to sleep in the store through AirBnb, but this one might be the first to create a demand for VHS players in a long, long time. We'll have to see what happens on Sunday, February 12, 2023.