Next month, Calver will be sending more than 800,000 vouchers for free, three-month subscriptions to his customers, which they can then hand out to their friends. “The vouchers are worth around £40, so our customers can use them as little Christmas presents,” he explains.
It’s a wily move: customers feel as if they’re being thanked for their loyalty and LoveFilm.com gets extra brand exposure. Calver, who worked at Dell and PepsiCo before heading up LoveFilm.com, expects to boost membership by ten per cent off the back of this Yuletide promotion.
Speaking to us as part of our My First Million project, in association with Orange, Calver revealed that he’s seen an unexpected shift in rental habits following the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross scandal, in which the comedy pair left lewd messages on the answering machine of the Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs about his 23-year-old granddaughter, Georgina Baillie.
“There was a public backlash over the incident,” says Calver. “But it resulted in a record number of rentals of DVDs containing Russell Brand and Andrew Sachs.”
Calver says LoveFilm.com will pull in sales of more than £70m this year. Next year, he expects to hit the £100m-turnover mark.