Phoenix Project Entry #2: How to Reposition RadioShack

RadioShack advertisementSAVANNAH – Entries are just out in the Savannah College of Art & Design’s Phoenix Project. (See a full list of entries here.) At right, the entry for RadioShack (NYSE: RSH) by the student team of Rodrigo Mitma and Josh Finkelstein.

Brand Problem: Big-Box and online electronic stores are superior in sales. Research shows that the consumer has a negative perception of the brand. Research also shows that people are displeased with employees and their ability to help them. Weak sales due to big-box and online electronics retailer competition. New primary research indicated poor consumer perception of employee knowledge, which fought the brand’s “we’ve got answers” advertising message.

Brand Solution: Using the consumers’ notion of Radio Shack as only useful when convenient, we will rebrand Radio Shack as the convenient store. This will reposition Radio Shack as the alternative to big-box stores. Focus on how the brand allows consumers to “get on with their life” instead of shopping.

The Phoenix Project is the yearly contest of Prof. Sean Trapani, a specialist in branding and copywriting. The idea? Take an old brand and reinvent it for today. A full gallery of all the entries is at Phoenix Entries; we will be writing an item on each entry as well.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.


  1. Thanks for the spirited feedback, Ray. As we all know, perception and reality are rarely roommates.

    In reality, RS associates may have the best educated, most buttoned-up electronics experts on the planet. The students are not disputing the reality of that – merely working with consumer perceptions.

    As far as the research goes, the students’ research was qualitative not quantitative research. Their sample sizes were about 30 people per brand. (However, in this case, two students collaborated and the sample size was closer to 60.)

    The questions were mostly open ended. The students asked their research subjects to describe their feelings about Best Buy, Circuit City, Wal-Mart and Radio Shack. The results showed a consistently low level of consumer confidence in the area of customer service.

    Again, consumer perception does not equal reality. But their assignment was to work from their research results. And they did.

    As future advertising art directors and brand stewards, these students were learning to use what the market (not client) believes as the starting point.

  2. Ray…love the name, by the way. You make great points, especially on their leadership in electronics, which was once a core strength. I agree with all except for the “difficult” part as last time I was in there, they had to ask me for my email address. I thought it was a joke, as in the olden days they wouldn’t let you buy anything without a telephone number.

    I love the student approach..very positive point in the ad, but I do think the store chain has larger work to do and cant fix itself with just advertising. If you look at my prior posts, I give them tons of credit for merely surviving, which is no small feat.

  3. I’d like to know what “research” was used in determining that Radio Shack is considered a difficult place to shop?

    The assumption to this re-branding scheme is that RS is packed with incompetent sales people, with little interest in helping a customer.

    As a former RS employee I know that sales associates go through a lot of training before hitting the sales floor, continuing training on the parts and pieces, and monthly training on newer items.

    To be sure there are incompetent associates in almost every business – just look at places like the US Congress! The blanket assumption that people dislike RS doesn’t seem to have credibility. If this were true why has RS been able to continue for 50 years, have excellent cash flow position and have increased advertising in print, tv and on the internet?

    RS does need some re-branding. But that re-branding will only come when the RS management teams decides what the overall focus of the company will be in the electronics marketplace. RS surrendered much of this leadership in the 80’s and 90’s by being overly cautious in adoption of newer technologies outside of cellular and computers. It took RS almost two years to bring out a DVD player – for example.

    Additionally RS (under the Tandy Corp flag) attempted to grow the business by openning niche stores (Incredible Universe as well as others) only to see them fail because the company assumed the same ROI for these stores when those electronic offerings could not supply the gross margins the company was used to with RS.

    Good luck with your project, no doubt RS needs a new consumer image, but your assumptions seem to be off base.

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