Millions of Americans make it a point to watch Amy Poehler when she’s on television. Now, there’s hope that she can help sell TVs, too.
She starred last night in a fairly amusing Super Bowl ad for Best Buy. While still the world’s largest consumer-electronics retailer, struggling Best Buy needs all the buzz it can generate. New CEO Hubert Joly has acknowledged that it suffers from a image problem—too expensive, too irrelevant—and that competitors like Amazon.com and Walmart.com are beating it on the Web.
Best Buy is particularly limited by its massive real estate: more than a 1,000 stores from Europe to the lower 48. It allows the company to dominate psychical retailing, but those giant stores today are becoming more and more only a showroom for its Web rivals. How can it make up for that? Emphasize what Amazon.com or eBay can’t offer customers. Real, live humans. The blue-shirted staff in those stores. Granted, monochromatic uniforms can seem a forbidding omen for those handling advanced technology.
Yet, Poehler co-starred with one those low-wage grunts last night. Judging by her experience in the ad, you can assume that they’re all tall, handsome and really patient with stupid customers. (“What is LTE? Is it contagious?”)
It’s interesting that Best Buy decided to emphasize its staff. Not its smaller stores. Not its new focus on mobile phones and tablets. Not its price-match guarantee. A Super Bowl ad is no small investment, and it reaches an incredibly wide audience. Best Buy must’ve spent gobs of time—at least you’d hope they did—in crafting the ad’s message.
It works. And it makes sense. A well-trained staff is one of the only things that differentiates. It’s also why costs have been rising since Joly took command, even though most transitions begin with blood-letting and budget slashes.