Best Buy shows that even a treehouse can be a smart home

The retailer's fall campaign uses connected tech to drive home its broader brand positioning.

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Best Buy has launched its fall campaign for 2018, and it’s using smart home products to drive home the brand’s broader positioning around the possibilities of technology.

The TV spot, created by agency Union, shows a young boy speaking with one of Best Buy’s “blue shirt” sales staff in the smart home section of the store. He comes home with an array of tech to outfit his treehouse, including smart light bulbs, cameras to see when friends have arrived, app-controlled locks to let them in and an Alexa-enabled Echo speaker to enable “anti-parent” defences.

In addition to the TV spot, Best Buy and Union brought the idea of the campaign to life by giving unlikely houses smart tech makeovers, such as a sugar shack in maple syrup country outside of Quebec City, or a 200-year-old house in Toronto, the oldest in the city. Videos of the home upgrades are being shared on social channels.

James Pelletier, director of marketing at Best Buy Canada, says the retailer runs a fall campaign to bridge the gap between the busy back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons and keep the retailer top-of-mind through that period. But while those two periods tend to lean towards being more product-focused – with back-to-school promoting things like laptops and holiday ads spotlighting hot gift items – the fall, Pelletier says, is a good time to put the emphasis on driving Best Buy’s brand message.

“[Best Buy] thinks technology is amazing and can improve people’s lives and wants them to get excited about those possibilities and turning them into reality,” he says. “The smart home is the perfect product to talk about that kind of message. It is amazing what you can do with that technology today, we’re really in the thick of it and it brings some exciting possibilities.”

Best Buy’s research showed that 46% of Canadians plan to purchase some form of smart home tech by 2019, or own it already. That’s up from around 35% in 2017, which Pelletier says shows interest in the tech is growing. However, 68% of Canadians also report they are satisfied with the technology they already have, and don’t feel an urgent need to make their smart home purchases.

“The biggest barriers to adoption are that people are satisfied with the status quo or don’t understand how a connected device would fit into their everyday life,” Pelletier says. “We want to walk the line of being inspiring and fun with our messaging to get them excited about what smart home tech could actually look like in their home and show what the Best Buy brand is about.”

Both the TV spot and online videos utilize a little bit of hyperbole, Pelletier admits, but it is a creative device that allows the retailer to address those more “functional” barriers to adoption, while still showing the tech in lighthearted situations.

“We know there’s a pretty small chance of someone actually putting that tech in their treehouse, but it shows how easy they are to set up and use and how fun they are,” he says. “And if the oldest functional home in Toronto can be made a smart home, then anyone can do it. The technology is so simple and easy to add to your home and has such an immediate impact on your life, that using that oldest home was a great way of exaggerating that and telling it in a fun way.”