Why do DVD's have artwork?

I’ve been sorting out my DVD collection recently and this question struck me.

I’m not talking about DVD cases - I understand why they have artwork. They help sell the product.

But the DVD’s themselves? You don’t see the artwork until you’ve already bought the DVD and brought it home.

The only time you might see the artwork before a sale is if you’re buying a used DVD. And why would the manufacturers want to encourage you to buy a used copy of their movie? They wanted you to buy it new in its original sealed case.

The artwork doesn’t come for free. The manufacturers have to pay to have it designed and then pay again to have it put on the disc. So they must feel it has some value beyond the aesthetic. But I don’t see how.

I’ve noticed a lot more DVDs these days are just gray with the title. Artwork seems more common on the special edition discs.

Quite a lot of people lose their cases, for one. It also makes it easier to see which side to put down. And it just looks more professional. The lack of label makes it look like someone down the street could have made it.

In fact, I bet it is an anti-piracy measure, or at least started out that way, before on-disk labelers became so widely available.

[li]Because it’s pretty.[/li][li]So you know which side is the top.[/li][li]To distinguish them if you keep them in an album or rack.[/li][li]So you can tell which is disc 1 and which is disc 7 of a 36 disc collection.[/li][li]It doesn’t actually take that much effort after you’ve made all the other promotional artwork that goes with it, especially booklets.[/li][li]Tradition.[/li][/ul]

I hate the DVDs that are just shiny and the title is written really tiny around the hole in the middle. I used to have my DVDs in a case for easy transport (moved a lot in college) and squinting to see the title was annoying.

Right, that’s what I was going to say – a lot of people remove them from the cases and store them in sleeves, books, cases or other “high-density” storage.

I noticed Netflix, especially, seems to get a lot of plain gray disks with a plain title stenciled on them. I thought it was just Netflix, since I rarely acquire/handle disks by any other means but the retail copies I saw (sometimes of the same movie) seemed to regular screened art on the disk, but I don’t know for sure. I figured it might make sense for Netflix to just order plain disks, since they might buy enough copies that they might be able to order a special run of just plain disks with no cases, booklets, printing, etc. When I first started with them, though, the disks were the same as the retail ones. Now they’re almost all gray (which might be the way retail is going, too, but I wouldn’t know).

Do you use Netflix? I’m convinced that they have a deal with studios to use the same template for all DVDs they rent. Gray with title.


We moved overseas and I just put most of the DVDs I wanted to take with on a spindle - a lot easier than sending over a box full of DVD cases. If I’m having to flick through them though, the album art is an easy way of knowing whether it’s one I’m after or not without having to bother reading each one.

I’ve only got a couple like that, and they’re double-sided - so they need to be like that in order to play both sides.

I understand how artwork looks nice and makes it easier when you store DVD’s outside their original cases. I store my DVD’s like this.

But I’m not asking why consumers like artworks, I’m asking why manufacturers like artwork. We, as consumers, may like the artwork but it doesn’t have any influence on our decision to buy - we don’t even know if it exists when we make that decision.

Tha manufacturers’ goal is to maximize their profits. So why add an expense that will produce no additional sales? You can’t even say it’s just a custom because there are numerous manufacturers that don’t add artwork.

I think it’s kind of a perk that a manufacturer uses to designate their brand as having a nicer quality than others. Convincing you to pay a premium price for future titles from this vendor.
Look at the Disney/Pixar releases. They always have nice artwork on the discs.
It helps convince me to pay $20 for Snow White.
If it was just a blank disc I’d feel they were cheapening out on me. When I pay $5 for Tom & Jerry I expect a blank disc.

So would you rather have nothing at all printed on it? If that was the case, it would be difficult to know which side of the DVD to have face up in the tray.

Even a simple ‘THIS SIDE UP’ printed on it costs something, and if they are going to take the time to print that, they might as well add something a little more snazzy.

Usually, the artwork on the disc is the same as the artwork on the cover, so it’s not like it costs extra for a new design.

Besides, artwork on discs has been around since the dawn of CD’s and that’s just how things have been done.

It costs next to nothing to print a logo on a DVD, and it makes it look nicer when the case is opened.

There used to be a time when all designs had non-utilitarian elements simply to make them look good. This is just the same thing: it looks good. If you’re not willing to accept a the idea of making a pleasing design is a good thing in itself, then remember, when things look good, people tend to prize them more.