RadioShack campaign touts its RCA alliance

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RadioShack Corp. this week breaks the first round of a multimillion-dollar campaign touting its relationship with Thomson Multimedia's RCA brand.

The ad and marketing effort, which kicks off June 6, will also feature concerts by leading artists set in locales as exotic as Machu Pichu, Peru.

The campaign was created by Circle R Group, Fort Worth, Texas, the consumer electronics retailer's in-house agency. The effort inaugurates the RCA Digital Entertainment Center at RadioShack, a showcase of digital lifestyle products such as satellite TV systems and MP3 players.


RadioShack and Thomson are funding the effort equally; executives from both companies declined to confirm the expenditure. But people close to the situation pegged spending in the $20 million to $40 million range. Media-buying responsibilities are split between Thomson's agency of record, Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, and Carat North America, both New York.

The integrated campaign includes direct marketing, handled by Rapp Collins Worldwide, New York.

The relationship between RadioShack and Thomson, announced last year, makes RCA products and services exclusive at more than 6,000 RadioShack stores (AA, April 24).

Extending their digital enter-tainment reach even further, the pair kicks off a 13-month concert series called "Music in High Places" produced by TBA Entertainment Corp., New York, a Time Warner company. Concerts will be broadcast from exotic places with artists such as Jewel and Alanis Morissette. The broadcasts will be filmed by top directors and recorded via high-resolution and surround sound. They'll be aired on cable networks such as TNT or TBS starting in August.


"The concert series provides us with a continuity vehicle and [a way] to focus on content," said Jim McDonald, senior VP-marketing and advertising, RadioShack Corp. Sneak previews of the concerts will play in RadioShack stores on a wall of RCA TV monitors.

In-store sampling stations will promote the integration of digital audio and video products. Stores will feature Jewel's concert, the first artist in the series, on June 8.

Nick Cassavettes, son of late actor-director John Cassavettes, directed the ad campaign creative, which was shot in the trendy South Beach area of Miami Beach, Fla. Against seascapes and art deco architecture, the spots feature RadioShack spokescelebrities actress Teri Hatcher and former National Football League defensive end Howie Long. The bantering, charismatic duo debuted in well-received RadioShack advertising in November.

The 30-second launch spot, "Grand Opening," features Ms. Hatcher persuading Mr. Long to stop by the grand opening celebration for the RCA Digital Entertainment Center at RadioShack. Enticing him with the promise of free popcorn, they attend the opening and the Jewel concert. The spot drives consumers into RadioShack stores on June 8 for the party, where they'll be treated to Jewel concert footage.

Two spots breaking prior to Father's Day, promote gift ideas for dad at RadioShack; additional executions will bow throughout the summer and into fall. They'll run on network prime-time and cable telecasts. Print will hit major newspapers and magazines, as well as inserts and circulars. Radio spots break on national networks.

The campaign also includes an in-theater component on 8,100 movie screens. It's fitting, noted Mr. McDonald, as it promotes RCA products' home theater surround-sound quality.


The co-funded campaign illustrates something of a trend for RadioShack, which has steadily enlisted high-profile partners to share marketing costs. The chain already has relationships with Sprint PCS and Compaq Computer Corp. Both have in-store presences and help fund marketing efforts.

This fall, RadioShack teams with Microsoft Corp. for the Microsoft Internet Center at RadioShack, where consumers can sign up for MSN Internet access and other services.

"We're building a portfolio of leading brands," Mr. McDonald said. "More and more, we're co-funding [these efforts] in addition to what we spend on our brand and tactical advertising."

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