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RadioShack wants to turn off the radio and be “The Shack”


FORT WORTH, Texas RadioShack is trying to turn up the volume on its image by turning off the "Radio" and rebranding itself "The Shack." The Shack is a nickname that employees, customers and investors have used for RadioShack.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based CE chain's rebranding effort begins Aug. 6 with a national television, print and digital campaign and the start of a three-day launch event in New York's Times Square and San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza. The bicoastal event will include 14-foot laptops hooked up to Web cams for live video and audio exchanges.

The company isn't changing the name of its stores. Chief marketing officer Lee Applbaum said the nickname is an attempt at "contemporizing the way we want people to think about our brand."

"The Shack speaks to consumers in a fresh, new voice and distinctive creative look that reinforces RadioShack's authority in innovative products, leading brands and knowledgeable, helpful associates," he said.

RadioShack faces a weak retail environment as Americans spend less on nonessentials in a deepening recession and tough competition from other CE stores and discounters. RadioShack saw second-quarter revenue fall 2.9% to $965.7 million. Same-store sales fell 4% in the period. The retailer blamed the decline on weaker sales of wireless accessories, digital-to-analog converter boxes, GPS products, music players and digital cameras.

The company believes it has "tremendous equity in consumers' minds around cables, parts and batteries," Applbaum said. Now it needs to get consumers thinking about its ability to keep them "connected in this highly mobile world." Ads in the campaign will focus on mobility and wireless products from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Apple, BlackBerry and Samsung.

"Radio Shack is in a desperate battle to remain relevant," said Drew Neisser, chief executive of Renegade. "The name RadioShack is a quaint artifact in a rapidly evolving marketplace in which mobile devices have become the CE portal. Using The Shack as a nickname is a bid to update its image and represent the passion loyalists have for the brand," he said. However, company leaders may be "hedging their bets," he said.

"If consumers are really already using The Shack, then why not commit fully?" he said. "The only reason I can think of is that they are worried about abandoning the awareness and any positive equity remaining with their old name."

Using The Shack in ads only, "the whole thing could come across as forced at best and confusing at worst," Neisser said.

The creative campaign was developed by Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners of Sausalito, Calif., which was named RadioShack's creative agency of record in April.

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