Yesterday on the tube I saw for the first time the controversial advert campaign by Dixons which pokes fun at their rivals Selfridges and John Lewis.
In case you haven’t seen the adverts or indeed heard any of the storm they have whipped up I will explain.Â The basic premise of the campaign is that you can go to a department store and let them walk you through something like a flatscreen TV and all its functions and then go to Dixons to buy it.
The advert campaign is clever because it provokes controversy and discussion which gets Dixons into the spotlight.Â Do not get me wrong however this is no Benettons although the ad agency who developed it would probably have you believe that it was!
The advert I saw read as follows -
“Step into middle Englandâ€™s best loved department store, stroll though haberdashery to the audiovisual department where an awfully well brought up man will bend over backwards to find the right TV for you.”
Then the font changes into Dixonâ€™s red and white lettering and adds: “Then go to Dixons.co.uk and buy it”. It ends with the tagline: “Dixons.co.uk – the last place you want to go”.
This advert campaign is floored in many ways and if it promotes any additional sales this will be a temporary thing and not long lasting in my opinion.
First of all although the advert does not mention John Lewis by name the implications is clear.Â They also call JL Britain’s best loved department store and here in lies the fundamental floor in this campaign.Â You see people who shop in John Lewis have an affection for the place that is akin to that felt for other stores over time such as Marks and Spencer.
My wife is actually brand loyal to John Lewis and not necessarily the contents of the shop.Â I am a definte convert and you can always find a member of staff to talk to and all of them have the perfect balance of good attitude plus technical knowledge.
I think Dixons have underestimated the strength of people’s feelings towards what they call “Britain’s best loved department store.”Â What they are suggesting is very un-British in the grand scheme of things.Â They may as well be trying to show John Lewis customers how to jump a queue.Â Even if they knew how they probably wouldn’t want to do it anyway.
The other thing that makes this advert “just not cricket” is that it is very American in its style.Â I have always liked the fact that our adverts don’t spend their whole time slating the competition but this is not the case in America.Â What Dixons are doing here is very American and will not sit well with those who are loyal to John Lewis (or indeed Selfrdiges – the target of another ad).
The campaign is also floored because it tells everyone what we already secretly knew anyway and that is that Dixons do not rate their own customer service.Â The response of John Lewis sums it up really -
Craig Inglis, head of brand communications at John Lewis said that his company found it a bit odd that a rival would make a virtue of the fact that it doesnâ€™t have anything like a comparable service.
Effectively Dixons are trying to encourage people to go and take advantage of the excellent service at John Lewis and then come to be served poorly but save Â£20 on your purchase at Dixons.
Dixons would be better off investing some of the probably extrotionate fee for this campaign into a long term investment in their customer service.Â This will reep far more dividends in the long term and if Dixons are admitting that their customer service is already poor (certainly in comparison to JL) then how are they going to cope if this advert is successful?
It says everything that they are pointing you towards their website because as we have mentioned before on this blog people have a misconception that customer service is somehow less important online.Â This is wrong and with your customers only being one click away from your competitors it is those who are embracing customer service online that will prosper long term.
Dixons have reduced themselves to nothing more than an online warehouse and they have also risked offending a cross section of the British public.
Finally as Michael Mcintyre pointed out recently does anyone else find it strange that the one place you need things to be plugged in (Dixons) everything is unplugged?Â You have to imagine how, for example, a hoover works.Â Never mind just go to John Lewis and let them show you how it all works.