By Harry McCracken | Monday, August 3, 2009 at 2:20 pm
Last night, I was fretting over the ugly rumor that RadioShack was about to change its name to The Shack. Today the company issued a 700-word press release announcing its plans, and…I still can’t tell whether it intends to change the names of its thousands of stores or not.
Some quotes from the release:
RadioShack Corporation (NYSE: RSH) will unveil its new brand creative platform, “THE SHACK,” on August 6, supported by an integrated television, print and digital media schedule, as well as a high-profile, three-day launch event taking place in New York City and San Francisco.
Remind me again what a brand creative platform is again?
Trust is a critical attribute of any successful retailer, and the reality is that most people trust friends, not corporations. When a brand becomes a friend, it often gets a nickname – take FedEx or Coke, for example.
Not terribly clarifying considering that Federal Express completely shucked its old name and is now FedEx Corporation, while the folks at the Coca-Cola Company are equally pleased if you call their product Coca-Cola or Coke.
“Our customers, associates and even the investor community have long referred to RadioShack as ‘THE SHACK,’ so we decided to embrace that fact and share it with the world,” said Lee Applbaum, RadioShack’s Chief Marketing Officer.
Fair enough. But will your embracing and sharing involve the changing of signage? How will you answer the phone? Also, does the fact you call RadioShack “RadioShack” but spell the new name “THE SHACK” mean that your customers, associates, and the investor community have long bellowed that nickname at the top of their lungs?
This creative is not about changing our name. Rather, we’re contemporizing the way we want people to think about our brand.
Semantics question: Does the fact it’s not about changing your name mean that you aren’t changing your name?
We have tremendous equity in consumers’ minds around cables, parts and batteries, but it’s critically important that we help them to understand the role that we play in keeping people connected in this highly mobile world.
Okay, that makes sense–if I were RadioShack, I’d emphasize mobile stuff over batteries and cables, too. But how does calling yourself THE SHACK help achieve that goal?
“We’ve partnered with RadioShack to develop a creative platform that will cause people to take another look at THE SHACK. Everything about the advertising – the media, format, style, music and tone – will contribute to a new interpretation of the brand,” said Greg Stern, [CEO of THE SHACK’s ad agency. “Everyone knows RadioShack. Our job is to communicate what THE SHACK stands for today.”
I’ve been in my local Radio Shack RadioShack THE SHACK recently, and the biggest difference I noticed over Radio Shack RadioShack THE SHACK of the past is that they no longer badger you for your home address. Can I get some clarification on how changing the music in the commercials will make me a happier, healther customer of Radio Shack RadioShack THE SHACK?
To bring the new creative strategy to life, RadioShack will host Netogether, a three-day event taking place in New York City’s Times Square and San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza on August 6, 7 and 8. The event will connect the cities with two, massive, 17-foot laptop computers with webcams that allow live video and audio exchanges. Netogether will feature live music, celebrity appearances and unique contests to demonstrate how technology can keep people connected – even 3,000 miles apart. Consumers are invited to visit the event and chat with friends or family via the laptops, or to join in the conversation online at www.radioshack.com/theshack, where they can offer real-time comments on the live video feeds.
Now you’re talking! I’ll try to visit the 17-foot laptop in San Francisco later this week and report on it here.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Lewis Kornfeld, former president of Radio Shack RadioShack THE SHACK, published a column called “Flyerside Chat” in the company’s weekly circular. It was remarkably earnest and direct, and bizarrely free of marketingese–a sort of a corporate blog decades before anyone knew what a corporate blog was. Now the company’s trying to tell me news in wording so laden with buzzwords that I can’t figure out whether it plans to take down the RadioShack sign at the location a mile from here and replace it with one that says THE SHACK or not. Wouldn’t a friend who was changing his or her name tell you so rather than tapdancing around the question? Can anyone help me out here?
Possible clue: www.theshack.com is taking me to RadioShack.com…