With apologies to any real advancements and actual inventory at Radio Shack, but the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Radio Shack is old or rudimentary technology: the Walkman, phone chord extensions and weird adapters you never knew existed or were needed, among other remnants from 1980s electronic consumer products. My brand impression of Radio Shack is a brand that never made the jump to the twenty-first century and, caught between becoming a hardware manufacturer or product retailer, it never caught on to the likes of Best Buy and Circuit City nor Dell, Gateway and much less Apple. In an effort to get out of this funk, Radio Shack launched yesterday a new marketing initiative to position itself as The Shack. “Our friends,” they claim “call us the Shack.” With friends like that, who needs enemies?
“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. 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.
— The Business Journal
As far as I understand, the Radio Shack name and logo will NOT be replaced with this new name or “logo.” It’s simply part of a campaign to help seed this new persona, created by Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners. Which is good news, because The Shack is extremely ridiculous — even more so than The Hut — and does nothing but dig Radio Shack into a bigger hole of un-coolness. The effort is in no way aided by the unimaginative graphics and “logo” that have accompanied the launch. The type is boringly simple, even annoying in its lackluster execution. And, seriously, giant laptops to create buzz in the two cities (New York and San Francisco) where there are more people with their head buried in an iPhone per capita than anywhere else? Oh, and yes, they are plain lame. Giant pumpkins on ice sound more appealing.
Radio Shack needs a major overhaul and it should take advantage of the idiosyncratic products they carry that you can hardly find anywhere else, a sort of geek thrift store. The Shack campaign is insipid at best and harmful to the brand at worst.