Video of the Week – RadioShack: The 80s Called!

“The 80s called and they want their store back”

This commercial is yet another example of how poking fun at your brand, in a clever manner, can go a long way.

In this recent ad, which aired during the 2014 Super Bowl, admits the obvious – RadioShack’s brand aesthetics have been stuck in the past, for too long! The electronic outlet, with roughly 4,500 stores across the United States, has begun the process of a corporate restructure which not only includes re-branding, new store designs, and of-course a new advertising campaign dubbed “In with the new”, they are also planning to close around 500 stores.

According to the WSJ (Wall Street Journal) in October of 2013, RadioShack secured $835 million in loans to refinance about $625 million of debt. Those funds, from a group led by GE Capital, also freed up cash for RadioShack’s overhaul.

As a Canadian we’re familiar with RadioShack’s financial struggles over the past decades. In 2009 Bell Canada purchased the bankrupt parent U.S. retailer Circuit City Stores and re-branded them under the name “The Source” formerly RadioShack.

With many U.S. retail organizations fighting for their share of middle-class consumer spending, which hasn’t grown in years, RadioShack’s “In with the new” campaign might just give them the edge they need.

The Phone Call

Ok, I love this ad! Granted I’m an 80s child and every figure in this commercial was recognizable and brought back memories. I watched it 3 times in a row and just kept laughing.

The ad begins with 2 RadioShack employees standing at the register in an empty old school RadioShack. The phone rings and one employee picks it up. Long pause. The employee hangs up and turns to his co-worker and says “the 80s called” and “they want their store back”. The front door opens to legions of 80s celebrities: Hulk Hogan, Cliff Clavin, Dee Snider of Twisted Sisters and many more creating total chaos as they pillage the store of products all to the soundtrack of “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend” by LoverBoy.

What makes this commercial really ingenious is how they creatively incorporated so many iconic 80s figures with mini scenarios. For example there’s a shot where Chucky is stabbing the floor. If you watch carefully you’ll see cameos from ALF, the California Raisins, Q*bert, Kid ‘n’ Play, Teen Wolf, Sgt. Slaughter, bobbing devo hats in the background, to name a few. It all ends with everyone speeding off in the DeLorean from Back to the Future – classic!

This commercial does a great job of roasting RadioShack and getting the message across that they know they need to change and they are ready to do it. The commercial currently has over 2 million views on YouTube and it’s a accompanied by a brilliant hashtag #InWithTheNew.

But it doesn’t end there. RadioShack has already released a handful of follow up commercials with 80s celebrities getting schooled on technology (below).

Judge for yourself.

ALF’s Cell Phone Call

Jason and the 3D Printer

Hulk Hogan and Sgt. Slaughter Activity Tracker

Cliff Clavin’s EL Wire

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