Media Markt vs. The Internet. A new narrative

Posted: October 15, 2011 in Advertisement, Communications
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Media Markt is an electronics superstore that must have killed more than one small shop that sold TVs, HiFi, Computers, etc. Now they are fighting a bigger opponent: a media, the Internet. Can they win?

MediaMarkt was launched in Germany in 1979, and according to Wikipedia there are now 235 stores in Germany, followed by over 60 stores in Italy and over 40 in Poland. This makes it Europe’s largest retailer for consumer electronics. I know Media Markt since I was a kid, because their ads appeared nearly weekly in the local newspapers my parents read. They’d usually be on several pages and would show crazy looking people. Their slogan was “Ich bin doch nicht blöd!” – which means something like  “Cause I’m not stupid!”. While there are now stores in 16 countries, it is clear that Germany has remained the main market. This is where the interesting part starts: As opposed to other electronics stores, who developped their web-presence, Media Markt still focusses on in-store sales.

Their main communications tools are posters and generous newspaper inlays with often more than 6 pages. Earlier this year, Media Markt launched at least one campaign where they guaranteed to offer a price below anything a « serious webstore » would offer. It turned out that they weren’t always able or willing to keep the promise, doing some damage to their brand-image.

But now, they went a step further. Perceiving the World Wide Web as a serious threat, they launched a new campaign all over Germany where they clearly defy the Internet. I learned about it – how else? – when I saw a prospectus at my dad’s house this Thursday. (this is a dad, by the way, who always argues with his girlfriend about going to Media Markt – which is his preference – or ordering over the Internet – her favourite method – which in turn shows that Media Markt is right to argue.).

The theme of the new campaign that is still running wild is “The new Media Markt Price”. The campaign attracts attention by caricaturing short term offers with a graphical layout that features sentences like “Bring your mum and get 20% off”, “The Nirvana of Price. Pay now for delivery in your next life” or “Cutting down the price. Shave your beard and get 50% off”, etc. Both style and content work very well together and are reasonably funny. A little arrow tells you to turn the page for a way out of the price jungle.

You turn the page and as opposed to the crowded first page, you’ll face a very clear, simple layout. This is what the philosopher Monroe Beardsley calls “Fusion”: form and what you want to express are the same. They say their price is clear. They make the page look clear. Media Markt tells you that the store managers will check online offers by major providers on a daily basis and adapt the price. Supposedly this means the end of  complicated and weird short term offers. The campaign is formally  interesting. It’s unfolds like a narrative. It starts with a (caricature) description of the current state of affairs. There are tons of strange short term offers that make people run to stores. Then it offers a solution: “Das Ende des Preis Irrsinns” (The End of the crazy prices). Then it develops different aspects of the solution: ethical (save  jobs of the department store workers), practical (don’t loose time looking for offers), hedonistic (do other things with the time you save), qualitative (make sure you don’t buy a fake). This is advertisement as an argument. Just the way it used to be in the olden days.

In the print version and on some of the posters (but not in the pdf download of the prospectus) you can read:

“Dear Internet: If you want to copy our price, please also copy our 14,694 employees.”

The prospectus shows a supposed webstore where you wouldn’t want to buy, suggests that items you order on the Internet may just as well be imitations, and says: Because their are nice things than to look for the best price online, offering a typology of web-price-hunters.

 I must say that I’m impressed. This is a store, a company, overtly fighting a medium. I don’t know any other examples of this, but I would be interested to learn.

 It’s as if Sony had fought the CD Player, because they were selling Walkmen. Or as if Grundig had fought the DVD, because they were selling VHS. Actually, it’s more than that (and a bit different). It’s MediaMarkt fighting the new media.

 “HardDisk recording kills DVD recorders kills Mini-DV kills VHS kills Super8 …” That’s the way things go. Now here’s a megastore that has a new enemy: a media. And maybe MediaMarkt’s ad campaign even has lateral benefits for other stores that they compete with.

 “Video killed the radio star…”? Well, no, it didn’t. Sometimes new and old co-exist, because they offer something different. Media Markt tries to show that they can do all the internet can, which is, basically, offering a better price. But that they also employ many people,  make sure the quality is good, etc. Do I think they’ll succeed? Maybe. In any case it’s a strong statement that makes people think about something they usually take for granted. I’m not sure that it will help, but the initiative seems mind-blowing to me. Here’s the link to their campaign page online.


Here’s one of the – arguably less efficient – videos of the campaign:

 

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Comments
  1. […] Media Markt vs. The Internet. A new narrative Posted in Business, Internet, Retailing, Sales, Strategy […]

  2. […] paesi come la Germenia, dove Media Markt ha lanciato nel 2012 e nel 2013 una campagna simile (Media Markt vs Internet) sfidando la concorrenza del portale di comparazione prezzi […]

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