Sunday, August 5, 2012

RadioShack—Touching Faith in Advertising

Some brands die a slow death, like wonderful old dogs that hang on, choke down their food, and still manage to wag their tails when you say "Good boy." There is nothing more touching than seeing a beloved old pet act just as lovably as it did as a puppy, though in ultra-slow motion. 

Which brings us to the beloved old RadioShack—the store where our apartment super used to go for a new fuse and where kids ran for batteries for their new toys on Christmas Day.

Today—in the age of the Mighty Amazon and the Formidable Home Depot—RadioShack is going through the motions on creaky joints. The chain lost $21 million last quarter, and its stock has fallen this year from nearly $14 to under $3.

It's a brand past its prime. One RadioShack store owner in Michigan (quoted in the July 26 Wall Street Journal) said, "The perception is that we carry nothing up-to-date and it is for people who build their own transistor radios." Transistor radios!

Last year about this time, RadioShack's Chief Marketing Officer gallantly described a new branding initiative celebrating the heritage of giving technical advice. She said, "Being able to advise people about electronics and technology is in our DNA. It’s the source of our authenticity and credibility." (Lee Applbaum quoted by Adamson, Forbes, 8.15.11)

Ah "authenticity." Being absolutely honest about being out-of-date? If only that could help.

Pictured above is RadioShack as a puppy. Today the stores are not as frisky but just as lovable... This company served ordinary people in need, flourished for decades... grew to 4700 stores... and now loses boatloads of money.

Soon, the company will launch new advertising...  apparently placing its dying hopes on a new campaign explaining RadioShack's reason for being. A new ad campaign? What can we say to that... "Awww.... Good boy!"



Unknown said...

Ah, "The Shack" as you would presumptuously like to be called.

If you would like to embrace your roots, and get with the times, rebrand yourselves to "Robot Shack." Sell parts and pieces for the 'makers' out there. Hold workshops that teach kids how to build their own robotics. Put a 3d printer in every store. Become the supplier to and leader of a generation that wants to build things instead of just staring at their phones. There's so much cutting edge technology that's interesting and becoming consumer accessible, if only there was a store that sold the pieces to build with instead of finished products.

But, you can't. You have too much infrastructure. Too much at stake for a bold change in direction. So, you'll stay the best place to buy an iPhone without having to wait in line, until you slowly fade away.

brandsinger said...

Wow - great strategy. Thanks for sharing the vision, o unknown contributor.

Another approach is for RadioShack to go completely retro and help the next generation of kids build transitor radios.