I was going to lament the lack of fresh thinking in UK retail when two things happened recently that gave me hope. One of them was only an advert but it was a bloody good advert. It made me realise that a certain British retailer is an unsung hero of the high street: Argos.
CHI’s new Argos campaign is an exciting move away from the alien family. Vibrant, fresh and oozing confidence, the ad manages to show off the products that Argos sells in a single-take of colour, breakdancing and BMX tricks, all soundtracked by ‘How You Like Me Now?’ by The Heavy. Nice work.
I have to say that it was something of a surprise when the Argos logo appeared in slo-mo but I was as delighted by this ad as I was by Marks & Spencer’s ‘Adventures in…’ campaign by RKCR/Y&R.
Argos has been doing multi-channel retail for a very, very long time. Back in 1973, warehouse-based retail was something completely new in the UK but twenty-five years later, it meant Argos was perfectly poised to make the most of the multi-channel revolution. Its click-and-collect model is now being mimicked by Amazon, no less.
Argos has also been making money hand-over fist for parent company Home Retail Group for a very long time. Argos is the John Lewis of the not-so-middle-class. It sells everything – conveniently, efficiently and profitably. Again – nice work. And if you need an engagement ring for under a hundred quid…
It occurs to me that some of our best retailers are at this less glamorous end of the market. Both Aldi and Lidl are giving the bigger supermarket brands a run for their money – and running some nice, cheeky campaigns along the way too…
The other thing that happened was that an American tourist got locked in Waterstone’s Trafalgar Square overnight. Waterstone’s response was brilliant – turning something potentially embarrassing into a brilliant piece of tactical marketing.
Picking up on the currency the story had gained on social media, they ran a competition in conjunction with Airbnb and Graze for ten people to choose some free books and sleep over in their flagship store on Piccadilly.
So – a refreshing new ad for a stalwart of UK retail and an inspired piece of responsive, social media-savvy PR and marketing. Perhaps there are verve and creativity on the British high street yet?