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Radio Shack Owns Its Past, Future Looks Bright

Branding

Now that the Superbowl and Brand Bowl have come and gone (thank goodness), the day 2 marketing extravaganza will begin.

Everyone with a Facebook page, Twitter account or a blog will pop out of the woodwork to rehash the good, bad and ugly of this years Superbowl. As a marketer, I’m going to keep my analysis short. All and all I thought the Superbowl was awful. Unless you are a Seattle fan, there was just so little to be excited about. The football was terrible from the first snap and the commercials that we all get excited to see left so much to be desired.

However, there were a few companies that did some things right with their Superbowl budget busting ads. One of the companies that I thought did a really nice job of using their time well was Radio Shack.

An often forgotten about brand across the states, somehow Radio Shack, almost in spite of themselves have survived a turbulent economy and a plethora of competition from Amazon to Wal-Mart and yet they still stand nearly 5,500 stores strong around the world.

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Rebranding Once Failed, Why Will Twice Work?

For those that may have a short memory, just about 4 years ago Radio Shack tried a rebrand from “Radio Shack” to just “The Shack.” Little commentary is needed here, but let’s just say those efforts failed mightily and no one today or ever really bought into the rebranding effort. Almost as quickly as “The Shack” came, it went, begging the question, what is going to make this time any different?

What I found to be the most valuable part of the new Radio Shack message was their outspoken willingness to laugh at themselves just a little bit and admit that they haven’t quite met expectations as a leading technology provider in such a rapidly changing space.

I believe people in general are willing to connect with a message where a little humility is deployed. It was almost as if Radio Shack said, “We know our stores are outdated and most of our gadgets aren’t what people really want or need, but we are going to do better now and we just want a chance to prove it to you.” While such an interpretation is mine, it is one where I found myself saying I just may meander into a Radio Shack in the near future to see if they can deliver on their promise.

They Will Only Get One Chance From Most

The challenge for Radio Shack on the heels of creating such buzz is that they will only get one chance from most people and if they do walk into the supposed “New” Radio Shack, only to find the same old, then they will lose their momentum just as fast as they gained it.

This is where Radio Shack needs to back up their marketing. They need to help people to better understand what this change really means and when as customers we can expect it.

As Time Contributor Harry McCraken share in his write up about the catchy campaign:

At the end, there’s a glimpse of a surprisingly spacious, modern RadioShack tastefully displaying sexy products from Samsung and Beats. Which seems to be more of a promise of good things to come than a claim that your nearby RadioShack is fully a creature of the 21st century. My local one looks more like the store looted by Cliff and Mary Lou than the dream store at the end of the commercial; it’s claustrophobic and a bit messy, qualities which most of the RadioShacks I’ve ever visited have shared. It also devotes a fair amount of its precious floor space to stuff like capacitors, which I have a hard time believing is a rational business decision in 2014.

Good advertising helps, and when it comes to the Brandbowl, I think Radio Shack was a winner for their messaging this year. Having said that, as a company and as a retailer they still have much to prove.

This is an example how great advertising can move the needle for your brand, but ultimately execution will dictate whether or not a business is merely smoke and mirrors or the genuine article.

If Radio Shack can execute on their vision, I think their future is bright. However, they have a long way to go and much to prove to just about everyone who has ever set foot into one of the current iterations of their stores.

Hey, it’s 2020 calling…is Radio Shack still around?

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