“Bad Idea on Line One”

Being English, I am no stranger to self-effacing humour (and in my case I have much to work with…) but as a rule I don’t agree with it in advertising.

Screen shot 2014-03-21 at 8.20.33 AMA case in point is the recent advert for RadioShack that debuted during the Super Bowl and that they have decided to stick with. An employee takes a call and says, “It’s the ’80s, they want their store back,” followed by a lot of ’80s icons charging into the store and clearing the shelves, and then it cuts to a new store at the end of the advert. Entertaining, I agree. And yes, I get it, they’ve made their stores all nice and new. Buuuuut, they’ve have also just told all the customers that were loyal and stuck with them that they are some kind of loser that likes to shop in out-of-date stores. Perhaps they can tell them they smell bad and dress funny too. (And BTW, the biggest ’80s problem RadioShack has is the name RadioShack – unless they can pull off a Chuck Norris-like uncool=cool trick, there is not enough lipstick in the world for that pig).

RadioShack sales are down 14% and they just announced plans to shutter 1,100 stores. With Amazon flirting with a resurrection of Kozmo.com, I’d say their best bet is to unfold a “go where they ain’t” plan in small towns which have less big-box and instant delivery competition.

I remember a decade or so ago, Southland Corporation rolled out a very ill-advised campaign to have 7-Eleven compete on price. It did not help sales and lost them money. Because, guess what, no-one shops at 7-Eleven for deals; they shop there for convenience. So 7-Eleven gave away profits no-one had a problem with them making. And they changed zero shopping habits.

It’s always a good idea to figure out why people do and do not conduct business with you – it’s the first step of every Brand we build – but making fun of your current/old self and thus your loyal customers is not the next step toward success.

— Simon Dixon

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