They’re Too Kind to Customers

“Absurdly friendly. Incredibly helpful” is the tagline in BaylessCronin’s first advertising for Alabama Power Appliance Sales Centers, a division of Southern Co.

The campaign is based on the strategy that won the Atlanta shop the $4 million business late last year.

Three 30-second television spots, shot at the client’s flagship store in Birmingham, Ala., exaggerate the helpful sales staff’s willingness to please customers. The commercials were directed by Sam Crawford of Mom-o-Rama in Atlanta.

The retail stores, located at the utility’s bill-payment sites throughout Alabama, compete with outlets such as Best Buys and Wal-Mart. The centers, which target low- to middle-income families, do not attempt to undersell competitors. Instead, Alabama Power offers customers revolving credit accounts.

“The best things about their places is not that their prices are better than Best Buys, but that their people are really nice,” said copywriter Mark Cohen, who wrote the spots withcreative director Jerry Cronin.

Cohen and Cronin, paired with art directors Dotsy Evans and Michael Cohen, based their scripts on stories related by the client.

“We came up with experiences customers might have and then ramped it up,” said Mark Cohen.

In “Sneeze,” a customer is offered tissues by every worker in the store. In “Doors,” an obsequious salesman displaying every possible appliance sends his customer running for the ladies room.

The spots en-able the client to showcase its in-ventory, ranging from microwave ovens to boom boxes. The mild customer annoyance helps balance each situation’s absurdity.

Chatty radio and print executions in newspapers including the Anniston Star, The Gadsden and The Mobile Register advertise seasonal and event-driven sales promotions.

Media buying is handled by Luckie & Co. in Birmingham.