RadioShack’s Latest Marketing Ploy Desperate Attempt to Increase Millennial Relevancy

Back in February, you couldn’t ignore the onslaught of news about RadioShack if you tried.

After years of financial struggle, the electronics retailer filed for bankruptcy, only to be rescued by Standard General LP in May 2015.

The hedge fund famously bought the RadioShack brand for $26.2M and spared more than 1,700 retail stores from liquidation, thanks to a co-branding agreement with Sprint.

Fast forward to December 2015 –– in less than a year, RadioShack has been killed, restored, rehabilitated, and now resurrected, as it desperately attempts to breathe new life into the brand and upgrade its image to appeal to Millennials.

The struggling electronics retailer announced last week that rapper–turned–actor–turned–reality show host, Nick Cannon, will become RadioShack’s new Chief Creative Officer.

Some may take issue with this left-field marketing ploy to lure a younger audience, especially since Millennials are widely recognized as the least brand-loyal consumer group in America –– and I should know, because I am (by age-definition) a Millennial.

My question is this: Why go through all the fuss of giving this outdated brand a youthful facelift when there’s low-hanging fruit in reaching Baby Boomers who were, incidentally, RadioShack’s earliest core customer base?

Before we began working with Influent50 – one of our newest agency partners that specializes in Boomer-focused CRM and creative – I may not have thought twice about this underserved market that controls nearly $2.5 trillion of all annual spending in America.

Now, I have a hard time understanding why brands are still putting all their eggs in the Millennial basket when there are 77 million American consumers over the age of 50, who account for 44% of our population, and 70% of our disposable income.

Marketers are constantly making mistakes when trying to reach this group, which is unfortunate, because today’s Boomers are reinventing what life looks like after 50, and their new definition of aging and retirement means they have access to far more disposable income than Millennials, Gen X, and Gen Y.

Hiring a Millennial celebrity to head up RadioShack’s creative makes it clear that they want out with the old marketing, and in with the new.

While I think their early ideas have some potential for subsequent greatness – i.e. expanding RadioShack's national STEM initiatives – I think Mr. Cannon is biting off more than he can chew, but, as a perpetual fan of the underdog, I hope he can prove me wrong.