Addison makes first awareness push through branded content

A Quebec electronics retailer's first marketing effort is a web series showing the hijinks of staff in its stores.

A Quebec electronics retailer that hasn’t done any advertising in its decades-long history is suddenly diving in, tackling the brand content space with a web series.

Addison Electronique’s “La Serie Addison” features an eccentric cast of characters not unlike those of NBC’s Superstore or The Office and is set inside the company’s bricks and mortar locations. Each episode involves quirky customer service-related scenarios, such as personnel training or internecine staff sales battles.

“La Série Addison” has generated nearly 430,000 combined YouTube and Facebook views since launching in February, which might be considered an auspicious start for a company that had an “ecommerce site that looked like it was something from the early 2000s,” according to Andrew Johnson, president of Independant Studios, which developed the series. He tells strategy he was impressed by Addison’s commitment to going from “zero to 150” with its marketing, when the retailer had not even done any billboard or radio campaigns in its storied history.

“We started from scratch – from nothing,” according to Maxime Labrèche, fourth generation member of the family-owned business (Leo Labrèche acquired the retailer back in the early 60s). Labrèche says that he thought the web series idea pitched by Independant would be the perfect vehicle to reach millennials and to get younger clientele into stores. The company faced a problem in that its current customer base was primarily baby boomers between 35-60, while target millennials had never heard of Addison.

Johnson likens “La Série Addison” to a scripted sitcom, with films in the five-episode first season ranging in length from four to eight minutes, in addition to bonus content like blooper reals or shorts that spotlight individual product categories. He adds that the web series was devised so that instead of “shoving a message down people’s throats” they could “passively tell people we exist,” in a medium that viewers find entertaining and culturally relevant.

On top of its regular cast of characters, the series features appearances by Quebec social media influencers such as fashionista Billie Tousignant – aka “billiebopbillie,” an Instagramer with 13,000 followers.

Johnson says that that the web series is not necessarily about sales, it’s about “notoriety.” However, he and Labrèche are now exploring the possibility of selling product advertising placements with vendors that fit into the storylines.