FORT WORTH (CBS 11 News) – Truth is often hidden in humor.  So, Fort Worth-based RadioShack embraced both for a Super Bowl spot that’s being called a launching pad for rebuilding the struggling brand.

“I thought it was pretty good, pretty wild,” says Klen Kuruvilla, while shopping at RadioShack’s Montgomery Plaza store Monday.  “Pretty amazing that Radio Shack is willing to make a move.”

The ad, which featured a phone call from “the 80s… saying they want their store back…” led to a crowd of crazed shoppers straight from the 1980s yearbook:  gymnast Mary Lou Retton, Hulk Hogan, the California Raisins and Chuckie to name a few.

The crowd then proceeds to strip the store right down to the bare floors.

The ad is great place to stage a new beginning, and that’s exactly what company marketing executives had in mind. However, some experts say it was a gamble.

“It was risky; but, at the same time, it was necessary,” says Brad Todd with the Dallas based Richards Group.

“And that’s one spot that I felt really did a job of saying ‘we’ve changed.’  Now, the question is, are they going to appeal to the group that they want to appeal to… was it enough of a change?” Todd asked.

Only time will tell.  But, the post Super Bowl buzz is certainly encouraging.  RadioShack shares were up 3% in trading Monday.

“We felt like it was a bigger risk not to do anything bold to reposition the brand,” says RadioShack Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Warren.

“We want to get people back in and create momentum, so we felt like it was a bigger risk, not to do something bold.  Everybody recognizes who Hulk Hogan is… who Mary Lou Retton is… and Chuckie,” explains Warren with a laugh. “Across the board, we felt like we picked a great group of characters that were recognizable, even for people who weren’t necessarily growing up in the 80s.”

Without question, the technology loving millenials were the target audience and company officials say the ad has “exceeded all expectations for us in terms of the momentum is has created, for customers, for the street, for our own associates and the excitement and the pride that they feel in the brand again.”

Experts say good advertising helps to build a brand and that starts with getting people talking.  But, the job is not done until the conversation leads to increased customer traffic.  And towards that end, even the coolest ads must still deliver the goods.

RadioShack officials say they’ve done that as well―and the retro themed Super Bowl ad was just the launching pad to let potential customers in on the changes.

“They think we only carry batteries and cables,” says Warren, “we’ve updated our store experience at over half of our chain.  But, the promise that we really made is that anything’s possible when we do it together… and that’s about our people.”

And so far, customers approve of the changes.

“It’s definitely different,” says Rachel King, registering her approval of the updated merchandising and feel of the retooled store, definitely more upscale.”

“They were definitely dated,” adds Kuruvilla.  “And I love the new look.  It’s a lot more relevant.  I think half the stuff in the store was never used, no one knew what it was, anyway.  Now, it’s stuff that you can go by and take a look at and buy and feel like you’re there for a reason.”

And customers, who want to spend some more time in 1980s nostalgia, can look for additional ads online.  In those spots, RadioShack store associates help 1980s characters understand and use present day technology.

“This is really only the beginning,” says Warren.  “We’ve made a lot of great changes; but, this is just the beginning of what people are going to see from us at RadioShack.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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