CAMPAIGNS: Branding - Best Buy has fun selling its image

Client: Best Buy (Minneapolis)

PR Team: Weber Shandwick Worldwide (Minneapolis)

Campaign: Fun Zone Technology Truck

Time Frame: July 2001 - ongoing

Budget: $15,000

As retailers struggled to draw attention to themselves this holiday

season, most were forced to do so by slashing prices. Consumer

electronics retailers faced a more difficult struggle, however, because

they've traditionally had difficulty distinguishing themselves from each

other in the eyes of consumers.

Best Buy is the exception to the rule, creating more and more distance

between itself and its competitors with an initiative that began long

before the holiday-shopping panic went into overdrive. In fact, Best Buy

revved up its branding initiative in the summer, and will continue to

drive home its message indefinitely.


One of the biggest problems with selling major appliances is that people

have to come to the store to see the products; it's hard to bring big

products to consumers. For Best Buy, the problem was exacerbated by the

fact that its goal has always been to show how its products work

together to serve multiple, superior functions.

"We call it solutions selling," explains Joy Harris, PR manager at Best

Buy. "It's not about selling you a product and sending you on your way.

There's been a huge focus in our stores on cross-selling through our

departments. We are becoming much more about solutions and


Getting that message across outside the store, however, is easier said

than done. "When we first started," says Harris, "people would give us a

big tent, and say you can do anything in this you want - we were

recreating the wheel every time. We needed something more versatile and

permanent that would brand us."


In July 2001, Best Buy found a solution when the Fun Zone Technology

Truck hit the road. At 53 feet in length, it's a "tech home on wheels to

give consumers the opportunity to interact with the latest technology,"

explains Kelly Puspoki, Weber Shandwick Worldwide senior account


"It's a way to get people exposed to new technology." Harris adds, "It's

a home setting, so people can see how it all interacts. And it's all


The truck has been driven to a variety of different markets and


Thus far, it has visited the groundbreaking of the new Best Buy

corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, several store openings, Major

League Baseball games, and even the Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay,

CA. The truck is essentially "an entertainment destination within those

events" it visits, explains Debbie Estes, Best Buy director of

promotions and events. "We go to where people are, rather than have them

come to the store," adds Harris.

And with each event the Fun Zone Technology truck visits, WSW has been

doing local media outreach. At the Best Buy headquarters'

groundbreaking, for example, "what we did was talk with the local papers

and local television assignment editors, and provided them with the

opportunity to come see the truck," says Puspoki. "We also provided

b-roll to local media to communicate the idea that here's this new truck

to bring technology directly to people."


Coverage in Minneapolis has been especially strong, with many stories on

the truck tied to the new Best Buy headquarters. There were also some

national hits, with Fox's The Best Damn Sports Show, Period airing

several holiday gift segments taped on the truck.

More importantly, however, people visiting the truck have responded


"We're pleasantly surprised with how it works for families," says

Harris, adding that several people inquired about buying the video game

demo stations, which aren't even available for sale.


"We didn't have a huge concentrated effort on media relations this

year," says Puspoki, "but the truck is new, and will be used a lot (in

2002) for brand building." Spring stops are being scheduled for an

effort Best Buy calls "Go Mobile," and fall visits to college campuses

are also planned.

In the coming weeks, the truck will make its way to the Super Bowl in

New Orleans, as well as the Ice Palace in Salt Lake City.

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