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The Source re-imagines ‘A Christmas Carol’

Plus, how the brand is working to reinvent itself long after its Radio Shack rebrand

With the holiday season almost underway, The Source has inserted itself into a Christmas classic.

For its newest TV spot, released Wednesday, the Bell-owned retailer put a modern twist on A Christmas Carol, imagining itself as “The Ghost of Christmas Presents,” a glowing hologram-like The Source employee who delivers high tech swag to Charles Dickens’ famous character, Ebenezer Scrooge.

In the ad, created by The Source’s agency of record, Juniper Park, Scrooge spots a young boy wearing Beats By Dre headphones and announces, “I want those, indeed” – a spin on its current tagline, “I Want That.” He’s then visited by the Ghost of Christmas Presents, who loads him up with the headphones, a tablet and a smartphone.

Ron Craig, vice-president of marketing at The Source, explained the spot was designed to be a fun, irreverent continuation of its last TV campaign with a character seeing someone with a product and announcing “I want that.” The Source employee then suddenly appears with an armful of the desired gadgets.

Craig said the “I Want That” tagline has become a guiding philosophy for how the brand sees itself. The retailer is working to position itself as a destination for technology products, rather than accessories and add-ons. Because The Source is a small box retailer competing in the world of Best Buys, Future Shops and Walmarts, Craig said it’s constantly fighting to be seen as a primary source for high quality technology.

“‘I Want That’ is the embodiment of our brand transformation strategy,” he said. “It taps into the excitement and emotional connection people have with the stuff we sell. We’re an adult candy store.”

Since it began focusing on consumer lust for high-end products like Beats By Dre headphones and its Apple offering, Craig said the brand has started to see perception of The Source shift. The company ran a set of two TV ads using the “I Want That” formula from April through October, and in that time frame he said its seen a growth in market share, increase in brand awareness and better brand perception scores.

In particular, the brand saw a 13% jump in perception of The Source as a destination for “the latest top brand tech” following viewing of the ads.

With a media buy by PHD, the holiday ad is now running on Bell properties nationally, including both network and cable properties. In Quebec, the ad is running on networks outside of Bell.

The Source is additionally running ads nationally on cinema screens via Cineplex, as well as online pre-roll, radio ads and both print and digital flyers. It has also invested more heavily in social media and digital marketing than it has in the past, Craig said, in order to reach a younger demographic.

Not your father’s electronics store

It’s been almost a decade since Radio Shack was rebranded as The Source, but the retailer is still working to shake its prior image. The name of Radio Shack itself called out a technology that was rapidly decreasing in popularity even in 2005, the year the store was re-christened The Source (then “The Source by Circuit City”), but that was just one of the retailer’s image problems.

Craig said Radio Shack struggled with everything from its store layout, which resembled a “cluttered connivence store,” to the fact it had been positioned as a male domain.

“The technology [we sell] reaches a broad spectrum,” Craig said. “This is not your father’s electronic store anymore and we need to evolve our communications strategy, the look and feel of our brand, our customer experience and use of digital technology and social media to reflect who our customer is.”

That means reaching a younger demo through online marketing, but it also means the brand has worked to ensure all its marketing acts as a mass play that appeals to both men and women.

“Electronics used to be more of a male domain. As it becomes just a part of life we need to reflect that cell phones are not a male thing – most of the things we offer cross both male and females equally,” he said.

As for the stores themselves, The Source has undergone renovations en masse and this winter it will open a prototype store in Barrie, Ont., with a more contemporary, streamlined design and lower fixtures that let users get hands-on with products. Later this month it will also open a kiosk at Toronto’s Pearson Airport that similarly, will offer consumers the chance to test out technology.

The work The Source put into revamping its stores and brand image is now paying off with its vendors. In recent months, the retailer has secured deals to carry products from premium brands like Bose, GoPro and Fitbit, as well as store exclusives with brands like Beats By Dre and Marley.

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