Circuit City Returns to Service

Circuit City suggests better service is what sets it apart from competitors in FCB’s first campaign for the chain.

The strategy marks a return to the Richmond, Va.-based chain’s message of about a decade ago, when commercials were tagged, “Service is state of the art,” said Fiona Dias, senior vice president of marketing at Circuit City.

FCB’s work is tagged, “We’re with you,” and pushes a similar message. “One of the things about brands, you look back and find nuggets that were strong and you strayed from them,” Dias said.

FCB picked up the business, formerly at TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York, in March without a review. The agency’s strategy was em-braced by the chain, which is seeking a competitive edge against electronics superstores like Best Buy and big retail chains.

“The insight was that Circuit City stands for service; we help customers through the selling process, in contrast to big chains like Wal-Mart,” Dias said. “We haven’t talked about service in awhile, and it is a differentiation for us.”

The electronics sold by Circuit City generate what Dias called “salivation.” Coupled with that, however, “is a sense of self-doubt and insecurity because they are so complex.”

Two spots, which broke this month, portray those points with humor. In one, a man is talking to a clerk about how Direct TV will allow him to have sports “24-7.” The man’s wife appears, and the clerk covers, saying, “You’re right, sir. With Direct TV you and your family can enjoy wonderful educational channels.”

“Thank you,” the man mouths to the clerk as his wife lets the purchase go forward.

When it won the account, FCB’s billings were estimated at $50 million, although the chain’s total budget is about $400 million, Dias said.

Circuit City declined to allow agency executives to talk about their campaign.

Media, handled in-house, is fo-cused more on a male consumer, with heavy buys on networks such as ESPN.