The Source brings tech to life

The retailer's holiday campaign creates some magic around hot gifts as it prepares for more changes in the new year.
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The Source is continuing on its path to changing perceptions about what it can offer consumers.

In a new spot, one of The Source’s expert staff shows up to help a mom figure out what kind of things her family would want for a holiday gift, placing each item on a snowman as he suggests ideas. It’s going well until, like a tech-obsessed Frosty, the snowman comes to life, taking off in the family car to try out all his new gadgets.

The spot, created by Juniper Park\TBWA, debuted over the weekend and is running nationally as part of a campaign that also includes ads on radio and social.

The creative concept is the latest evolution of the retailer’s “I Want That” platform that debuted in the summer, where one of its expert staff enters a situation with a range of different products. That’s a slight departure from the previous “I Want That” concept, where the expert would step out of a store that appears behind a wall holding a single spotlight item, which has been used in The Source’s previous two holiday campaigns.

The “I Want That” platform was initially created in 2012 to shift perception of The Source being a place for add-ons and accessories – baggage it was carrying due to its past as the Canadian branch of U.S. retailer RadioShack – to a place where consumers can find the latest and coolest products and tech brands.

Ron Craig, VP of marketing and business development at The Source, says one of the limitations was not being able to show the full range and depth of what the retailer was offering.

“What we were looking to do is give a little more flexibility in the scenarios we could show, but ultimately we’re delivering the same message,” Craig says. “But this does give us a chance to show multiple things, especially around the holidays when you want to tell that we shouldn’t just be considered for a couple key products. And so many of our products already lend themselves to gifting, so for the holidays we lean heavily into creating more fun and excitement around those products.”

Craig adds, however, that positioning The Source as a place for cool tech is just one part of a larger reinvention puzzle. The other major change at the retailer has been reinventing its in-store experience to stay relevant in a competitive retail category, redesigning six of its key stores to focus more on customer experience, interactions with products and having experts on staff, with 50 more store redesigns arriving at the end of next year. It has also expanded its product selection in-store and revamped its website and e-commerce platform.

“What we’re trying to do is create a starting point to change 40 years of baggage, but it’s not the end point,” Craig says. “Just being the place for the latest cool tech isn’t enough of a differentiation. That’s why the products we’re leaning into in our advertising are all products that people expect some level of experiential service around, be it advice or going hands-on to try it out. We’re changing our stores, our merchandising mix and all our other touch points, but in the meantime we have to be able to deliver on the products. It’s less about painting a picture of what we want our end result to be, and more about building towards it.”

Craig says The Source has been quiet about communicating these changes, especially heading into the holiday season when consumers tend to be more product-focused themselves as they search for specific gifts, but the plan is to do more work around that in the new year.

“Now was not the time to shift, but a shift is coming,” he says. “What’s encouraging is that we’ve seen our strategic efforts to raise awareness for our new identity begin to pay off, especially in the holiday season, so our annual business definitely looks like a hockey stick… We’ve built on the things we’ve done that have been successful.”