HHGregg ditches ad campaign, returns to former agency

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HHGregg Inc. once again is changing promotional strategies, moving its business back to Zimmerman Advertising.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Zimmerman said Wednesday that HHGregg has returned to the ad agency. The move comes about a year after HHGregg ditched Zimmerman for Chicago-based Leo Burnett and Spark. The Indianapolis-based appliance, electronics and furniture chain had worked with Zimmerman since 2007.

“HHGregg was, is, and will always be family to us,” said Cliff Courtney, Zimmerman’s chief marketing officer, in a prepared statement. “Our team has already kicked into gear and we’re not taking our foot off the accelerator.”

The change comes just two months after HHGregg unveiled a new marketing campaign in an effort to boost sales at slumping stores.

The wide-ranging campaign, part of what the retailer billed as a brand transformation, included a new company logo and television commercials, in addition to an improved website and more services offered to customers who purchase big-ticket items from an HHGregg store.

Its advertising spots, dubbed “fill your home with happy,” highlighted the joy a new television or appliance brings to a household. That was a shift from HHGregg’s last marketing campaign, which focused more on the challenges of choosing the right product as the Beatles song “Help” played in the background. Zimmerman and HHGregg launched the campaign in May 2011.

With the move back to Zimmerman, HHGregg has decided to shift its marketing focus from brand-building back to retail promotion, according to a report in the trade publication Adweek. HHGregg officials did not immediately respond to inquires from IBJ on Wednesday afternoon.

Prior to Zimmerman, HHGregg's advertising had been handled for 24 years by Indianapolis-based Pearson Partners Inc. The firm took a huge blow in 2007 when it lost the HHGregg account to Zimmerman, losing 15 of 44 employees as a result. Pearson went out of business in 2010.

HHGregg has 229 stores in 20 states, mostly in the Midwest and Southeast.

Company shares were trading at $9.20 each in late-morning trading, off significantly from their 52-week high of $20.75.


  • website tells all
    horrible customer service, shoddy appliances, incompetent extended warranty technicians. check hhgreggs website. Nothing but bad reviews from customers who will not be return business. word of mouth(and social media) is the best/worst advertising. something is drastically wrong with hhgregg. clean house!
  • commision
    They are paid on commission.
  • Of course
    "Fill your home with happy" is the kind of inauthentic meaningless marketing tagline that deserves to be canned. Hard to believe hhgregg execs would sign on for that. But two months is certainly not enough time to evaluate it. One more desperate B&M retailer flailing about.
  • Amazon To My Door Free Shipping
    My family conducts 90% of the consumer goods items it needs on Amazon. The other 10% fall to Wal-Mart or Target. My family spends 95% of the food items it needs at Aldi and ther other 5% at the Marsh or Kroger that is within 2 miles of my home. I can't remember the last time I was in a HH Gregg or for that matter even a Best Buy store. I remember going to Fry's electronics and walking out muttering to myself, "Now I know why I shop mostly on Amazon!" You can research what you want and the prices that are available and get it shipped (often times FREE) to your door. No amount of advertising spend be it focused on retail OR branding OR whatever is going to dissuade me as a consumer that this is not the easiest option as long as pricing is still comparable.
  • Balance
    I've dealt with HHG on both fronts - from a consumer walking in the door looking for something in particular and from a business customer arranging product supply/delivery. From the former perspective, I have consistently been put off by the hard selling; from the latter, I've seen great pricing and delivery options. I've even seen the great service to upgrade to a better model of product when another was promised and not available ($700 TV to $1500 TV at no additional cost, which still resides in my living room). I don't care about the marketing aspect - what it boils down to is as it relates to how the salesmaen suites my needs. I don't frequent HHG for anything, and likely never will, as pointed out by others - there are many options to search for product specs online and to know at what price they should be available at. What HHG should focus on is the perceived values of those who don't know that walk into their store and those who have done their research to evaluate where a reasonable profit can be obtained. If you know your margins and can convince someone to buy on the spot, you win. Commissions go to the person who can convince someone to walk out of the store with something they are convinced into buying that suits their needs. Outside of that, develop your relationships with frequently buyers to increase the overall margin with bulk sales and great service.
  • Scream the loudest
    That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.
    • Sales methods are key
      The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.
      • Real Failure
        Although I agree that the sales associates need to learn better tactics, HHG and BB are doomed to fail if they try to compete on sales of goods. BB once knew, but has forgotten, that the real advantage is in services and connectivity of all those gadgets. Amazon and other online-only retailers simply cannot offer that to their customers. So long as both HHG and BB try to focus on selling goods, I think ultimately they will go the way of buggy-whips.
      • Ads can't conquer poor service
        No matter how HH Gregg advertises their stores - their horrible delivery service, overbearing sales people and glaring lack of customer service will continue their downward slide in consumers' choice of a retail appliance store they can trust and rely upon.
      • Why HHGregg Fails
        The issue with HHGregg has nothing to do with marketing. The issue has to do with the way you are assaulted by their sales people the moment you walk in the door. HHGregg is my last choice, I always lean to BB. Change your training of sales associates and your approach to customers. Most male customers already know what they want and want to browse a little before looking for assistance on the final decision.
        • Leo did a sweet little spot
          ...with kids and appliance boxes, and I thank them for the entertainment. Unfortunately, I am given not a single reason to choose them over a more convenient Best Buy or anyone else. Bet Leo gave the "little brand" the C-team.
        • It doesn't matter...
          through which medium hhgregg speaks if it doesn't know what to say. This company has no footing.

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