GO ran some of the most prolific advertising campaigns seen in pre VRA Britain. In fact some were so over the top and in your face that they were partly responsible for the onset of video classification in this country, that's how important and controversial their ads were.
GO's owner Des Dolan cut his teeth in the music business and this experience fared him well in the new landscape of video releases. His understanding of marketing was supreme and he new that to market his company and fight alongside the big boys and the already established independents he needed to catch the eye of the end user and the trade alike. He clawed a niche and exploited the opportunity to shamelessly promote the lurid innards of his product, full in your face. Almost always using full page spreads to ensure the message was delivered.
Understandably, Nazi symbols, naked women and flesh eating cannibals had some sections of the media and campaigners in a frenzy. The magazines in which GO chose to depict these ads were not top shelf, nor were there any 'lads mags' of the ilk of Zoo or Nuts to hide away in. They were in your face in family magazines.
Some of the biggest at the time, Popular Video and Video Today were two of the biggest selling info magazines on video output at the time and GO used that popularity to great effect. Many of the video distributors of the time used this channel to show off their newest releases, but the kings of this were GO Video, often full page, often questionable in regards to taste and nearly always big and colourful.
Continental Film & Video June 1981
This ad for the first four titles from GO appeared as a two page spread in Continental Film & Video magazine. These first four were of a soft core adult nature and had very low distribution numbers hence the rarity of them. This was one of the first efforts at marketing that GO subscribed to.
This incredibly early advert has a simplicity that mirrors the basic design of the sleeves themselves, completely in harmony with the whole make up of the companies output, from simple sleeves and labels to plain advertising. Showing their flexibility in supply for both VHS and Betamax, GO would be one of the pioneering labels that would eventually adopt the V2000 format as well.
Celestine for £39.95 anyone?
Popular Video June 1981
One of their first and unusually, in black and white.
Video Today February 1982
One of the celebrities in the GO camp arrived in this issue, along with Cannibal Holocaust and other releases from Vipco they sent the media into a frenzy.
Along for the ride many politicians leapt on the bandwagon eager to be seen to be upholding justice for the country, many saw the opportunity to raise their own profile and thus enhance their career with this weeks big scandal. This advert incensed the pressure groups lobbying parliament and was partially responsible for the onslaught of the VRA and the certification and censorship of titles in the UK.
Controversy it definitely created and that was never going to be missed or ignored by the wonderfully entrepreneurial approach of GO, ......
.....isn't it fabulous?
Video Retailer February 1982
A trade magazine advert as opposed to some of the domestic publications.
Continental Film & Video March 1982
The most infamous of all the Go releases bore its fruits here in this Continental issue.
Other adverts of this same image got the company into a lot of trouble along with its sister DPP title SS Experiment camp they caused such controversy that it's suggested they were heavily involved in the the beginnings of the VRA.
With its hero of the piece seen tucking into a nice journalist lunch it was gruesome enough to capture the imagination of the horror fiends touring the Video stores looking for new thrills and more than enough to offend those looking to be offended.
Unsurprisingly its not an ad that's seen regularly like some of the other releases, I guess editors alike got the jitters eventually.
Popular Video May 1982
Remarkably, this issue of Popular Video saw a change that was never reversed, like the impending cloud on the horizon of the VRA and VPRC heading for the industry that resulted in the taming of not just the content of these tapes but also the dumbing down of the sleeve designs, a number of readers had complained to the editor of the magazine about a lurid Vipco add two issues previous. Such was the volume of complaints and voracity of the feeling of the readership that the editor publicly announced that no longer would Popular Video allow their clients to issue such material, hence the censored head from the otherwise deliciously gorey Macabre advert.
This beauty of the cannibal film Savage Terror was in the same issue, though thankfully there was little to censor, unlike the film which perhaps should be censored on taste grounds.
Interestingly Popular video had principles and being a 'family magazine', they took the stance that they would doctor the top twenty rental charts to remove any adult or as they considered 'gory' horrors, effectively publishing in accurate information.
Funnily enough their principles didn't stretch to the advertising of these titles as Savage Terror suggests, I guess principles can be expensive luxuries.
Popular Video June 1982
Two of the best films from the GO stable shared the pages in the mid year issue of Popular video. Both of these are well worth seeking out for a viewing, as Italian crime and westerns go, they rank right up there. Note the great tagline used for both, 'Another great "Blockbuster" from Go video'. Blockbuster used in the loosest of terms in this case but certainly decent films none the less, and as far as Go titles are concerned, these are Oscar material.
Popular Video July 1982Go Video, and Des in particular loved a weepie. They saw this niche genre as a real money spinner and from mid '82 started to deliver some titles to cater for what they saw as a growing female market.
Male or female, this is an aweful film with an irritating central lead character. At least some of the other outputs in this genre by Go had a little something about them, see the Picadilliy series for instance.
This was a crap film with boring artwork and the ad doesnt lend itself to a must see either. No wonder this strategy didn't work.
Popular Video Sept 1982
Two full page full colour averts for new releases, on the tamer side.
Continental Film and Video Sept 1982
The same month saw this effort for the Japanese disaster film Megaforce 7.9, odd that this title was chosen for this publication as Continental specialised in adult genre films and releases, this Japanese film is far from the type of film expected by the usual readership.
Popular Video Nov 1982
After the commercial partnership between GO and Piccadilly was agreed, GO wasted no time in ploughing ahead with a healthy marketing campaign to flaunt their new label and releases.
This high profile push may be the reason why Puzzle was by far a more successful release for them than some of the later titles on Piccadilly.
The Same issue gave a home to this ad for the cracking little thriller with a dash of Bondesque hue.
Video Today November 1982
Insanity and its awesome artwork as designed by the regular sleeve designers Grafitti. Who also designed many of the Intervision cartons of the era amongst others.
Go employed their talents and services for most of the later releases. The styling can clearly be seen as the professional and creativity advancements are easily distinguishable from the earlier titles.
Just compare this to scared to death and you'll soon see.