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Best Buy, Circuit City Tout Digital

In advance of the all-important holiday selling season, Best Buy and Circuit City are touting the benefits of digital technologies through in-store and road show promotional campaigns.

Circuit City is taking the former tack via a month-long Expo 2001 campaign. The nationwide effort, which began Sept. 30, highlights high-tech products and services via in-store signage and live demonstrations. Sales associates at all 600 stores are conducting regularly scheduled demos each weekend through Nov. 3 for 20 categories including broadband, digital imaging and movie editing, hand helds, SACD, satellite radio, wireless and Ultimate TV.

The campaign, which had been in the works well in advance of the Sept. 11 disasters, was designed to “change the way shoppers interact with these products,” explained president/CEO Alan McCollough. “In our industry, new products are introduced almost daily, and it can be difficult for consumers to keep up with all the advances. By giving consumers as much product information as we can,” he said, the campaign helps deliver on the promise of Circuit City’s “We’re with you” tagline.

Expo 2001 was also created with Christmas in mind. Said McCollough, “Expo comes at a time that’s ideal for consumers who want to do some early research for their holiday shopping needs.” To that end, stores are providing handout materials that include a holiday wish list. Added a company spokesman, “The event will help resolve any questions consumers may have about products in advance of the holidays.”

By contrast, Best Buy is taking its high-tech message on the road via a 53-foot Fun Zone Technology Truck, which contains kiosks with interactive gaming and digital music zones; home office, home theater and high-tech kitchen vignettes; and an expandable stage for events.

The trailer, now on a cross-country tour, uses what the company describes as “an advanced networking solution” to stream dynamic content into seven TVs and two computers, including flat panel LCDs from Sharp and a 55-inch wide-screen HDTV. The truck also uses a two-way satellite high-speed Internet connection to provide broadband delivery for uploading and downloading.

Also on board is a prototype Internet-enabled refrigerator from Whirlpool; portable MP3 players, MP3-equipped PDAs and digital music pods with interactive video screens; and a network connection center with information about the benefits of home networking and how products inside the trailer are integrated.

“The Fun Zone is a great opportunity for Best Buy to extend our brand and [give consumers] the chance to interact with technology that can improve their lives,” said events director Debbie Estes.