News & Politics

Radio Shack Becomes “The Shack” to “Friends” (UPDATED)


RadioShack, the place we visit for signal splitters and batteries and which also sells phones, TV gear, and even radios, now says “Our Friends Call Us The Shack.” Sales at the chain are down, and maybe they think this will make people think of “Love Shack” by the B-52s, and want to hang out there…

There is no official word yet from the company, but someone has made citation-free edits to this effect on RadioShack’s Wikipedia page, claiming a line of gear heralding The Shack has been created, and Daily Tech hears that “The Shack will be having a celebration to kick off the new name in San Francisco and New York with 14-foot tall laptops to stream images from webcams to and from each city.”

Assuming this is just a promo twist and not a corporate name change, it makes some sense. Certainly word tricks meant to personalize the consumer experience in soulless chains are not unknown; we have heard more about “The King” than about Burger King in the past five years, and McDonald’s clearly hopes you will enjoy a visit to their McCafe.

But it’s one thing to cozy up a restaurant, albeit one made of plastic, and another to cozy up a discount electronics store. There was The Wiz, but they started out that way. Few of us go into RadioShack looking forward to a chill hang. Maybe they can install thatched roofs and serve daiquiris.

If it works, maybe we’ll see a promo war among The Shack, The Buy, and P’s.

Update: We hear from Radio — we mean, The Shack’s PR people that the new cognomen is actually a “new brand creative platform,” developed by Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners of Sausalito, CA. “When a brand becomes a friend, it often gets a nickname — take FedEx or Coke, for example,” says RadioShack’s CMO Lee Applbaum. “THE SHACK speaks to consumers in a fresh, new voice,” which emphasizes “the role that we play in keeping people connected in this highly mobile world. You will see a real focus on mobility and wireless products from leading brands in our new advertising.” Having labored awhile ourselves in the ad vineyards, we get it, but Harry McCracken of Technologizer professes confusion: “Does the fact it’s not about changing your name mean that you aren’t changing your name?” Also, says Crunch Gear, “Why? Why!?” Well, The Shack’s got gearheads talking about them, anyway. And when was the last time that happened?


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 3, 2009


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