Adwatch (Feb 8) top 20 recall: Currys/PCWorld

Currys/PC World: 'fast-paced' January sale ad
Currys/PC World: 'fast-paced' January sale ad

The retailer's return to generic sales ads betrays a lack of courage and imagination

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The retailer's return to generic sales ads betrays a lack of courage and imagination.

Do you remember any sales ads? I do. Harrods – there is only one sale, Harvey Nichols' exquisite high-fashion expose of sales greed, British Airways' original "world offers" promotion, or its later "attractive prices" campaign.

All these ads tackle the generic business of sales with the original and distinctive voice of the brands that authored them.

Chances are that you won't be remembering this one, though. It's no better or worse than many of the other sales ads that appear on this list every January – a fast-paced, impossibly cheerful, if slightly shouty, tour through various gizmos at can't-believe-it prices with a catchy soundtrack. It's an assault.

So far, so much the same as any seasonal sale ad. We know it's a Currys/PC World ad because it tells us at the beginning and end. We know it's a sale because of the red lozenge that flicks tirelessly through an array of savings.

So, if the ad is so unremarkable, why pick it for review? Well, my question is this – is this really the same company that brought us Darth Vader visiting the store before Christmas? And this question invites many more.

Why was it appropriate to invest in a property that would apply to only one part of the media mix and one part of the schedule? What kind of traumatic Christmas did Currys/PC World have to induce a total personality transplant in the space of three weeks?

Why did the team behind it believe in the power of creativity to get their message across before Christmas, only to abandon this belief after it? Why do the bad guys always have better technology than the good guys in sci-fi movies?

So often repeated is this formulaic sales ad that we might assume it is the only way sales messaging works. Goodness knows Currys/PC World need it to. But is it wise to abandon a brand in which you've been investing just because it's sale time?

Surely the brands that consumers have most admired over the years are those that carry their voice through all activity, and gain advantage from it. When Volkswagen was in its pomp, it released a price campaign that still runs today – surprisingly ordinary prices.

You know, the one where people walked into bubble-wrapped lampposts. Rightly, this campaign won many awards and has proven its success in the long term.

Perhaps the story of this ad is one of missed opportunity. Not the quietly efficient business of hard sell before the more tricky and complex task of building long-term brand preference, but the lack of courage and imagination to take your brand voice into the sales war.

Maybe the Star Wars franchise is too limiting. Maybe the deal has timed out or Vodafone outbid it for the rights. Maybe it saw the VW Star Wars 'Bark side' ad and decided to jump off the George Lucas gravy train. But I can't help feeling this was an opportunity missed.

Brand Strategy Verdict?

This is what it is: a sales ad. It won't do much to establish the idea of a more helpful electrical store, and it is likely to pay little into the brand pot long term, although it may drive some much-needed sales of PCs.

5/10

Adwatch (Feb 8): Top 20 recall
Latest rank Feb-01 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall %

1

(–)

Direct Line 

M&C Saatchi/MediaCom

68

2

(–)

British Heart Foundation 

Grey London/PHD

59

3

(–)

DFS 

Uber/MediaCom

48

4

(–)

HSBC 

JWT London/Mindshare

46

5=

(–)

Halifax 

Adam & Eve/MEC

42

5=

-6

Harveys 

HMDG/MediaVest

42

7=

-2

Argos 

CHI & Partners/Mindshare

40

7=

(–)

Webuyanycar.com 

Driven/AllResponse Media

40

9

(–)

Disneyland Paris 

Euro RSCG BETC/Carat

38

10=

(10=)

Morrisons 

DLKW Lowe/MEC

35

10=

(–)

Fiat 500 

Doner Detroit, Krow Communications/Maxus

35

12=

(–)

Niquitin 

TBWA\London/MediaCom

34

12=

(–)

Aviva 

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/ZenithOptimedia

34

14

-9

Currys/PC World 

M&C Saatchi/Walker Media

33

15=

(12=)

Comet 

Euro RSCG London/ZenithOptimedia

27

15=

-19

Kellogg's Special K 

Leo Burnett/Carat

27

15=

(–)

WeightWatchers 

Saatchi & Saatchi/OMD UK

27

18

-20

The Co-operative 

TBWA Manchester/PHD Rocket

26

19

(–)

Thomas Cook 

(Beta)/Arena

24

20

(10=)

Sainsbury's 

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/PHD

23

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