“It’s our voice, a new voice, the voice of the people,” said Abel Czupor, marketing director. “RadioShack’s audience used to be just an older demographic, but now that times have changed and e-commerce has taken over, RadioShack’s old voice is no longer relevant.”
After a decade of decline, RadioShack was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in 2015. In its struggle to find a brand identity, the chain filed for bankruptcy twice and grew from approximately 5,200 stores in the United States. United in 2014 to about 400 when private equity firm Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV) bought it in 2020.
That year, retail vulnerabilities were fully realized during the coronavirus pandemic, as evidenced by the stampede balance sheet returns. It was then that Miami-based REV released a number of struggling retailers plan to relaunch them in web-centric stores, including homewares store Pier 1 Imports, sporting goods chain Modell’s and discount retailer Stein Mart.
REV was founded by Alex Mehr, the co-founder of the online dating site Zoosk.com, and Tai Lopez, an online influencer known for his lavish lifestyle advice. They launched RadioShack Swap, a decentralized crypto exchange platform that allows users to swap coins or tokens, a format that offers greater flexibility and lower transaction costs than trading. The token, called $RADIO, is worth about one cent.
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On the RadioShack Swap website, the company said the relaunch is targeting people who are not normally considered crypto investors. “There is a real generation gap between the average crypto user and the average business decision maker,” the company said. “This demographic difference creates a significant psychological barrier to crypto adoption.”
In a May statement, the company reported trading volume of $40 million, with a daily average of $500,000 to $2 million. “The swap is adding two or three new tokens every week and we continue to see a lot of interest especially from gaming token startups. They understand that the RadioShack brand is in line with their own game,” Mehr said.
Still, with the latest Twitter marketing strategy, reactions have been mixed. One day, the platform itself “randomly closed our account and locked us out”. Czupor said, though some tweets were later reinstated.
Some internet personalities with a large following have posted warnings, telephone call it is an “advertising campaign to win favor with the public for their cryptosystem” and urge people not to kick for it. Jack Appleby, author of Morning Brew’s social media newsletter, Future Social, said that “engagement doesn’t matter if it doesn’t translate into sales,” highlighting the value of its token in a discussion that analyzes its strategy.
“These reviews are completely false,” the company said in an email. “In fact, sales have increased since we started developing the Twitter game in the past few weeks.”
Kylie Cammon, founder of social media marketing consultancy Flying Hare Social, called RadioShack’s tweets an effective way to get exposure. “Anyone who likes Crypto likes this kind of humor,” she said. “They definitely got what they were looking for there.”
While some content might be considered offensive, Cammon said their target audience “might not necessarily care.” It was a gamble for RadioShack to go after eyeballs while risking alienating a larger group, she said.
RadioShack, which declined to identify the poster, made it clear that it is committed to the strategy. In a tweet filled with Internet shortcut, the unnamed “trainee” wrote: “Internal shack here. Just wanted to think about my post. I expect to say, in my wildest dreams I never thought this tweet would go viral and apologize. … No, we weren’t hacked, and no, I wasn’t fired. Brace yourself…”
The campaign comes at a bad time for the crypto industry. Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, is trading near $19,000, more than 70% below its November peak. South Korea’s Terra crypto project — which includes both a token and a so-called “algorithmic stablecoin” — saw much of its value wiped out in a matter of days in May. It caused losses across the market, including crypto bank Celsius, which would subsequently freeze assets, and hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, which would go into liquidation this week.