Commentary

RadioShack Finally Kicking Mobile Into Gear (All It Took Was Lance)

Lance ArmstrongIs RadioShack getting a mobile-centric makeover? The electronics chain boosted its profile last week when it said it will sponsor a new pro cycling team led by seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. On the same day, RadioShack also announced a deal with T-Mobile USA to sell the wireless carrier's devices and service across at more than 4,000 locations nationwide.

"RadioShack is focused on growing our mobility category and is committed to providing our customers with a broad selection of the best wireless products and services in the industry," said Peter Whitsett, executive vice president and general merchandising manager at RadioShack, in connection with the T-Mobile announcement last Thursday.

In April, Radioshack, which had total ad expenses of $214.5 last year, switched its advertising creative account from Arnold Worldwide to Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners. Digital marketing was a key part of the selection as the company aims to make a stronger connection with electronics shoppers as they research products online before going into stores complete purchases.

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In announcing the new cycling team sponsorship, Radioshack's Chief Marketing Officer Lee Applbaum said the company was relaunching its brand "with a new creative platform" in early August. If Radioshack wants to make a bigger push into mobile, dispelling its lingering image as a home for electronics hobbyists should be part of that effort. Who thinks of Radioshack first when it comes to buying a mobile phone?

In that vein, it should also revamp its retail outlets to better compete with the wireless carrier's own stores and big box retailers like Best Buy, which last month revealed plans to open 40 more standalone mobile stores this fiscal year. RadioShack's renewed focus on online marketing will show better results if it's coupled with a strategy for more consumer-friendly stores, where most sales are closed.

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