After blowing millions on Super Bowl ad, RadioShack to close 500 stores

Reported by the Wall Street Journal recently, electronics chain Radioshack plans to close more than 10 percent of U.S. locations due to an ongoing restructuring plan. This news broke approximately two days after RadioShack ran a 1-minute add during the Super Bowl which showed an older 1980’s style store being demolished by pop culture figures from the same decade. Beyond the production costs to hire all the popular figures in the commercial, Radioshack also had to pay exorbitant Super Bowl commercial pricing which ran approximately $4 million for a 30-second spot.

The Super Bowl commercial was designed to poke a bit of fun at Radioshack’s outdated image and unveil plans to redesign stores around the country. Characters and iconic figures featured in the spot included Cliff Clavin from Cheers, Hulk Hogan, Q-Bert, Alf, Michael J. Fox’s Teen Wolf, Chucky, Alf and Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton. The 1980’s characters are seen raiding the store of all the old technology, like VCR’s and CRT computer monitors, thus leaving RadioShack to debut the new store design at the end of the commercial. 

RadioShack management has yet to specify which 500 stores will be closed this year, but it’s likely that lower performing stores will be the targets. Prior to this point, executives had indicated that store closures would be strategic and each closed store would eventually be reopened in another location with greater foot traffic. However, it’s unclear if this strategy is still viable after debt restructuring during late 2013.

RadioShack management has attempted to turn the company around by focusing heavily on smartphone sales over the past two years, but that strategy has been fairly unsuccessful due to fierce competition with wireless carriers, big box stores and online retailers. Based off the commercial, it appears as if new RadioShack stores will focus heavily on mobile music accessories like Beats headphones and portable Bluetooth speakers. That being said, RadioShack’s recent weekly paper advertisements have continued to feature smartphones heavily.

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