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Super Bowl’s Other Upset

The Seahawks weren’t the only big winners of last night’s Super Bowl XLVIII.

In one swell foop, RadioShack reestablished itself within the American psyche with a self-effacing second-quarter ad that acknowledged its dated image and pointed to a revitalized future. (“The ’80s called. They want their store back.”)

The spot featured a host of 1980s icons, including Mary Lou Retton, Hulk Hogan, Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) and Alf, who literally emptied a RadioShack store of its obsolete electronics to make way for a sleek, modernized remodel.

The ad served as the launching pad for the chain’s new “Do.It.Together” branding campaign, and was supported with additional footage on, and a 24-hour Twitter sweepstakes featuring ’80s-themed prizes like a pair of original Air Jordan 1 sneakers.

“We’re using the Super Bowl as the platform to get people to rethink RadioShack,” said Jennifer Warren, the company’s senior VP and chief marketing officer. “This ad is meant to grab attention, make viewers laugh, and let people know, it’s out with the old and in with the new RadioShack.”

Apparently it achieved its goal. The spot was ranked Top 10 in Super Bowl viewership by TiVo and Hulu, and was the darling of media critics, including Ad Age, which declared it the game’s best commercial.

But winning Super Sunday is only a first down in the long slog that is CE retail. As ad agency exec Matti Leshem said on Bloomberg Television, “Certainly as an ad it works. I’m not sure it gets more people into the stores. The question is do they follow it up? Do they have that strategy?”

For months now, Wall Street has been wagering against Warren and her RadioShack teammates under new head coach Joe Magnacca. But if last night proved anything, it’s that there’s no such thing as a sure bet.