Last acts

Dixons ad (comparing to John Lewis)

I’m certainly not claiming to be any sort of advertising pundit.

However, the recent advertising campaign for Dixons strikes me as quite remarkable, and not in a good way. It has already sparked a lively debate. I’m sure that was at least part of the intention. In fact, I can just imagine a bloke from the agency with a La Roux haircut telling the client that this would make it ‘social media’.

First of all, no matter how good the strategy behind it, is it really a great idea to give your client the strapline ‘the last place you want to shop’?Clever wordplay it may be, but it also making a negative statement about the brand, and not a small one. It is acknowledging a commonly held belief that Dixons offers an unpleasant experience. Especially considering that the advert is for the online store rather than than the scrappy Dixons with abusive staff who have now disappeared from our high-streets (or become Currys), which brand would want to say this? Is there no worry that customers will remember it. Imagine it as a store fascia! Unsurprisingly, the strap line hasn’t made it on to the actual site.

Secondly, by reducing their offer to pure lowest price, Dixons is severly limiting any future value proposition it may put before customers. While Selfridges, Harrods and John Lewis (the stores shown in comparison) all have well deserved reputations for service; by lampooning themselves, Dixons can hardly expect any consumer to be left in any doubt about what they are offering now or in the future.

And here’s the other problem with going for a purely price-commoditised proposition. I have absolutely no doubt that consumers do go to stores to find what they want before finding the best price online. And, of course, geeks have already starting using phones to check competitor prices even as they stand in the competitors stores.

Now if you’re in Harrods, and not a total geek, I can imagine that a good sales person will be able to convince you to pay a small premium to have the product there and then, with Harrods’ service promise. This is not, however, a viable strategy for online. The sort of consumer who looks in-store and buys online is not going to stop at just checking the price on They will check it in Google, Kelkoo and the rest.

So to win in this strategy, Dixons would have to guarantee lowest prices. Of the products I looked at, they were matched or beaten by players like Amazon and Play in most cases, and even more suprisingly they didn’t appear in Google shopping, even for the very flat screen TVs they were talking about in the ad:


(Look over in the cheap seats (PPC slots) for the two DSGi brands).

Is it really possible that they didn’t think of this when planning the campaign?

The main point though is that I think this advertising is smart-arse creative written for smart-arsed creatives and planners. It’s an advert aimed at industry people.

But who is the real target audience? Is it really aimed at customers of Selfridges et al? If so, I think it misjudges the value those customers place on service. And, it’s not exactly an excerpt from ‘how to win friends and influence people’ to mock your customers. If it is aimed at a more standard high-street shopper, isn’t it just a bit too clever.

Indeed Neil O’Keefe, current DSGi marketing director says: “With this campaign we aim to reach an even wider, particularly younger audience.”

I would love to see the testing results about how this ad influences intention. For those who understand it at all, I’d imagine it’s more likely to drive people to the doors of Dixons’ competitors than to include Dixons in their online repertoire. In part because the younger, smarter audience understands the concept of price comparison, and in part because, in the hustle and bustle of the tube, or wherever you see these ads, people may not even spend long enough to know they’re not for Harrods, Selfridges or John Lewis. An interesting test is whether you’d ever run this creative on the web? When price comparison is one click away, they suddenly seem completely unusable.

Very strange. Slightly desperate. And, I’m guessing, the last thing the ad agency (M&C) will do for DSGi.

1 thought on “Last acts”

  1. Very well put; this really jarred with me on the tube the other day as well. People don’t go to John Lewis to get it cheaper, they go for the service, the lengthy guarantee and the experience of being able to speak to an “awfully well brought up young man” who will answer patiently while they ask a lot of seemingly obvious questions. I got the ad, but it seemed really badly targeted, as you rightly say.

Comments are closed.