The Wiz Makes Itself Comfortable

Wolf Group repositions The Wiz as a comfortable place to hang out in its first work for the struggling consumer-electronics chain since winning the account in July.

The New York shop’s campaign has seven spots; two broke over the weekend, and the remaining five will roll out over the next two months. All ads feature an unassuming, casually dressed man standing in a Wiz store, touting “the new Wiz.”

In one commercial, the man describes how Wiz salespeople no longer work on commission and are obligated to pass product-knowledge tests before they can work on the floor. “There’s zero pressure and lots of help,” he says at one point, as customers mill about. In another, the fellow says that competitors’ circulars will be available in Wiz stores, and so shoppers can compare prices.

The new tagline is, “These are the facts. This is the new Wiz,” replacing “Get it right at The Wiz.”

“We’re really trying to convey that The Wiz is still here,” said Mike Rogers, Wolf Group New York president and ecd. “Most importantly, we are entirely new and different.”

Spending was undisclosed. Edison, N.J.-based The Wiz spent $20-25 million on ads in the first seven months of 2002, and $50 million in 2001, according to CMR.

In August, Wiz parent Cablevision said it would close 26 of the chain’s 43 stores by year’s end in a bid to cut costs. Wolf Group was hired just weeks before Cablevision’s decision.

“Typically in advertising, you can take a humorous approach or an approach of going right after the competition,” said Beth Simpson, client vp, marketing and advertising. “But we think we have compelling commercials that are fact-based—not a lot of song-and-dance.”

The strategy, Simpson said, stems from market research that revealed customers’ unhappiness with consumer-electronics-store ex periences. The new work—along with a redesign of the 17 remaining stores, which now have plush couches and revamped listening centers—seeks to address that.

The spots are running in the tri state area on network stations and Cablevision cable channels. Wolf Group handles creative and media planning for The Wiz; R.J. Palmer in New York handles media buying.

Ads that ran last year from Customer Strategies Worldwide in New York mainly featured product- and price-messaging.

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