Thursday, September 20, 2012

Does Value City think we're all a bunch of idiots?

I don’t watch TV on a regular basis – I don’t even have cable.

It was at the gym I first noticed the maniacal dancing buffoons Value City Furniture had elected to embrace in promoting their all-too-frequent sales.

Do you know the spots that I’m talking about?

If not, let me bring you up to speed:

Still have enough brain cells left to read on?

Recall is everything with TV advertising

It’s a feat that’s grown harder to achieve given the rising prevalence of DVRs and our now almost instinctual tendency towards thumbing at our smartphones during breaks in programming.

For the Value City spots to stick, it took (in my case) just under an hour of less-than-passive TV viewing between sets – an advertising success by most fundamental marketing standards.

Sure they went against the grain, opting to irritate rather than intrigue – but what choice does a budget-conscious, economy furniture retailer have?

They can’t tout quality or craftsmanship. They haven’t any exclusive lines or signature styles.

They’ve got to unleash a non-sequitur – something totally off topic and spurious that makes viewers say “what?”

But at what extreme in securing recall does advertising fail to deliver tangible results?

That is, at what point does associating random/unrelated visuals with your product or brand start to work against you?

We say Value City crossed it with their Presidents’ Day Sale.

(I know, Presidents’ Day was 7 months ago – it wasn’t until I saw a new spot with “regular people” that I thought to finally get this brooding aggravation off my chest)

Sitting through 30 seconds of non-stop hand flails and booty pops performed by a couple of nobodies is one thing; but dressing the same zeros up as our nation’s founding fathers?

Are we to assume these two greats would go nuts for 10% off a 7-piece dining room set or delayed financing?

I know we’ve reached a point where George and Abe’s essence have become public domain; and I’m all about advertising at the extreme but COME ON!

I don’t bleed red white and blue like some of my fellow patriots and still I’m offended.

It’s appropriating vital images from our nation’s founding for the sake of mind-numbing entertainment not even stimulating enough to engage a two year-old.

Its recall doesn’t move Value City into my furniture buying decision set.

It places it clearly out of bounds.

When it comes to attempting to secure recall via non-sequiturs, learn your boundaries. And just because your commercial is annoying doesn't mean it can't be effective - even aggravating memories can deliver new customers.
The tipping point between help- and harmful vary by industry, brand and demo.

How far can you take your creative? Be careful! :P


  1. Hi Daniel!

    Well… you certainly did your marketing homework! :o) This is Value City Furniture, and we’ve read your blog, and you know what? We absolutely agree with ALMOST everything you’ve said. You’re right; we are cutting through the clutter! I mean… what good is a commercial if it isn’t even heard? We don’t want anyone tuning us out!

    BUT… to answer your headline question, we definitely don’t think you or anyone watching our commercials are idiots. And you missed why we’re dancing. We are dancing because we’re so happy that we’re helping our customers save money on great furniture. Shopping for furniture can be stressful. And overwhelming. But we make sure our customers have the best experience from start to finish. And if they need something… we are here for them, every step of the way. I’m dancing right now just thinking about it. My feet are moving under my desk in running man fashion. I might just break out in Vogue… that’s how excited I am for our customers. When they shop our store, they can enjoy stylish furniture at affordable prices. And if you don’t think we have great looking furniture, that’s another thing you missed! You should swing by the store and check us out. This is NOT your parent’s furniture store. No way. Our furniture will make your friends compliment your living room, and make them jealous when they hear how much you paid. True story.

    So great article, and we’d love to share it on our Facebook page to see what are fans think! Please let me know if that’s okay by emailing us permission at

    1. Thanks for reading, Heather! Glad to see you can keep your cool with what no doubt seemed an attack on VCF.

      Opinions not fact, of course – and maybe it’s just positioning at play? What’s annoying to one group no doubt proves a fun, catchy, breath of fresh air for another. The ad might not resonate with me, but I’m not necessarily the target demo – and to my initial point, recall is there regardless of resonance and that’s the most important. ;)

      I was enthused to see a retailer immersed in social media as much as VCF, kudos to building out a real authentic presence.

      Re: the sharing of my article on your fan page, I think I’ll pass for now. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from blogging it’s that online comment strands afford a bit too much anonymity for my liking – affording people who’d never verbally attack someone in the flesh to go hog-wild. My esteem just couldn’t take the less articulate VCF brand advocates. ;)

      I admit I didn’t dig deep on the VCF Facebook newsfeed, but I wonder if you might be able to take the dancing promo a step further – building a contest around the submission of customer video snippets dancing with a room of new furniture upon delivery? Facebook fans could vote for the most enthusiastic, choreographed or original for the chance to win merchandise, gift cards, etc. Now THAT would be brilliant!

      Happy Marketing!

  2. OMG ... We are talking about doing something close to what you're referring to now! Nothing is planned yet...but you will have to keep an eye on our page. :o) I think you'll like what might happen next.

    And thanks for your social media compliment. We truly enjoy reading everyone's comments and opinions about our brand. And yes, it can be quite varied - but if everyone thought the same, well, this would be a boring world! And one thing's for sure - social media is never boring!

    Love your blog! And thanks again Daniel!