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Best Buy Co. is soliciting customers' ideas to use in advertising creative for its first integrated branding campaign, a $40 million effort breaking July 13.

The electronics chain plans to install price tag-shaped boxes near the front of its 277 stores to collect customer suggestions. Some suggestions-and the persons who originated them-will be featured in TV spots and Best Buy promotions.


Ads, slated for spot TV in Best Buy's 33 markets and national cable, will conclude with a new tagline: "Now that's a great idea." Advertising is handled in-house.

The suggestion forms also will be used as wrap-arounds on Best Buy's weekly Sunday newspaper inserts, and ideas will be collected on the company's Web site, www.

"It's a vehicle to say we're listening to our customers," said Jennifer Johnston, director of broadcast services for Best Buy.


In one of the first two TV spots, Best Buy addresses a common misconception that the chain does not sell appliances. Creative features a Minneapolis customer named Barry, brought blindfolded into a store where company employees surprise him by celebrating "Barry's Appliance Month." There is a ribbon-cutting ceremony, balloon drop and oversize cardboard cutouts of Barry's head.

In the second spot, a female customer named Shelbie asks store management to find a way to get her husband, who likes the store's "no-pressure/hands-on shopping" environment, to leave and come home.

One or two new executions featuring selected customers and their ideas will be rotated into the schedule in mid-August.

Best Buy is the latest electronics retailer to try a branding effort. Circuit City Stores and regional chains such as The Good Guys! on the West Coast and The Wiz in the East have begun such efforts.

The category has been hit by progressively shrinking margins on computers-the result of a drop in average prices-as well as new competition from other mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart Stores and category killers like discount music chains.

Best Buy's campaign is intended "to distinguish ourselves as a brand beyond price," said Julie Engel, senior VP-advertising, adding, however, that "price is still a primary positioning" for Best Buy as well as its competition.

"One of the big challenges in retail is how to bring more profit into our industry," she said. "We are not being influenced by our competition in terms of the path we need to go down."

Ms. Johnston said factors motivating the switch from last year's "no payment/no interest for one year" campaign also included the branding success of such major retailers as Sears, Roebuck & Co. and J.C. Penney Co.

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