While I agree with the majority of Mark Ritson’s excellent analysis of the latest Phones4U advertising tactics, I’m not convinced that the end result will be “scarily effective”.
At the grand old age of 29, I’m in the upper third of Phones4U’s target demographic. And as an avid horror film fan, I can’t say that I found the ads disturbing. Check out the offering in question:
However, I do agree with Mark that the campaign is going to deliver in terms of awareness. Their previous campaigns have done so as well, causing various amounts of outrage and controversy. In fact, I’d argue that this is now part of their core advertising strategy.
But awareness alone a sale does not make.
In fact, even getting more people through the door won’t guarantee an uplift in sales. It might help – after all more footfall equals more opportunity – but there’s nothing guaranteed.
The success of the campaign – or not – will lie with the customer experience in-store.
When I was looking to upgrade my phone, I thought that I would give Phones4U a chance. Being honest, the brand has always seemed somewhat low-rent to me, but I could save a few quid, I could put up with it.
Within moments of walking through the door, I was pounced on by a salesman. When I explained that I was looking to upgrade, I was passed over to another salesman.
Once I’d gone through the situation, explaining the deal that was available from my current provider, the salesman tapped a few keys on his computer and suggested a few phones. Knowing what I wanted specifically, I reiterated the make and model that I was after (HTC Sensation).
He asked me to wait a moment and disappeared to “check the latest deal”. When he reappeared, it was with an HTC Wildfire with half the data limit for £2/month more than I would be paying for the handset and data allowance that I wanted – and had already told him I could get from my existing supplier.
It was pretty obvious that the guy was chasing a sale, not listening to what I, the customer, wanted.
I have no idea if I caught a bad salesman or a bad day. However, on a previous trip in-store, I was pounced on, asked for a few minutes to browse, and then studiously ignored for the rest of my time – despite trying to attract some attention.
So while Mark Ritson’s right and the latest ad will achieve awareness and probably footfall, if the customer experience in-store isn’t up to much, the customer will go somewhere else.
Even the best TV ad in the world won’t stop this happening.
What Phones4U need to do now is ensure that, when their advert has worked and they get more people across the threshold, their sales agents provide what the customer wants/needs, and not what they think the customer should have…