Dixons gets honest

Travelling around the London Underground yesterday, we came across this surprising campaign for online electronics retailer dixons.co.uk…

dixonssmall_0.jpg - Dixons gets honest - 1749


Travelling around the London Underground yesterday, we came across this surprising campaign for online electronics retailer dixons.co.uk…


Eschewing Dixons’ usually bland ad approach, the posters (which were created by M&C Saatchi in London) cheekily recognise the brand’s position in the electronics market, which is pretty much at the bottom. The ads acknowledge a habit that many of us may recognise with some guilt – that we will get advice about expensive goods at a more upmarket store, but then nip online to make the actual purchase, where it is cheaper.



Using the familiar fonts from a number of popular London retailers – Selfridges and John Lewis are shown here, and other iterations include Harrods – the ads open with a description of the benefits of shopping in these stores, before then reverting to the Dixons font with the line “then go to dixons.co.uk to buy it”. The self-harm/awareness continues with the ads’ tagline, which is “the last place you want to go”.


We’re used to hearing about how brands are going to be more transparent in the modern age, but it makes a pleasant change to actually see such self-knowledge put at the centre of an ad campaign, and it will be interesting to see how successful it proves to be.

  • Sean

    Well, I really like the campaign.

    Good on them for understanding how people view them and making a virtue of it.

  • Rob

    You have to admire the bravery of the copywriter, although this does feel like a university project.

    Be interesting to see if it has an impact and draws people away from the mentioned companies.

  • Interesting idea, are they much cheaper, do they not just charge the same as their high street stores?

  • Matt

    I did actually take notice of these this morning, which is a start.

    It’s just a shame that it isn’t actually true. Dixons rarely offer better value for money, and the customer service in both stores mentioned is incomparable, so it would be the ‘well brought up young man’ who would be getting my hard earned money every time.

  • Bland? Maybe

    Works? Yes

  • “Visit dixons.co.uk, wonder why it isn’t also called Currys.digital like their high street shops are (even though it’s a stupid name, unless, what, they also have a Currys.analogue shop out there somewhere that sells gramophones?), find what you’re looking for, then pop over to Richer Sounds and get it a bit cheaper there.”

  • Definitely bold. It doesn’t encourage me to buy from Dixons but may well influence many to do so!

  • I think it’s fantastic. Rock on. People who actually know what their customers (or potential customers) think of their company, and use it to their advantage. It would make me want to buy something from Dixons, which is unusual, to say the least!

  • Mark

    I like these a lot.

    Some of you are missing the point.

    This is a well considered approach to understanding buyers needs.
    They understand the need for people to get advice in person and see, touch and play
    with the product – which you can’t do online.

    They are saying go to ‘good’ department stores to to be advised and see the product.

    Then go online and buy it (with online saving) from dixons.co.uk
    (not go to Dixons in the high street or whatever its called these days).

  • To me, this is the smart way of showing price comparison, as opposed to the generic and interchagable communication we get from supermarkets – with Asda and Sainsburys now both aping Waitrose and everything looking the same – we look at this here if you are interested…http://www.jkr.co.uk/design-gazette/2009/09/supermarket-budget-advertising-indistinguishable-and-without-values/

    Anyway, the copy made me laugh – the knowing acknowledgement that a trip to Dixons is on few folks list of favourite things.

  • They’re funl, and not a little unlike the Kanye West meme.

  • Lou

    I think what is missing is the reason to go to Dixons, i.e that it might be cheaper.

    Department stored like Selfridges and John Lewis are successful for good reason.

    A nice idea for someone’s portfolio but the ads might be a little pretentious to actually persuade people to go to Dixons online. It would be interesting to see if it works.

  • I fiddled with my new laptop in John Lewis, then went to dixons.co.uk where it was 25% cheaper.

    These ads are brilliant as they reflect exactly what the retail experience is suffering from – a mismatch between in-store experience and online value.

    Perhaps Dixons should now sort out their dodgy shops, smarten up the sale staff, rip out the beige carpet and apply some of the same style to the offline world. I might even go to Currys Digital for a fiddle instead.

  • Chopski

    To the person who says ‘this looks like a university project’ – get over yourself you pompous plonker… it’s a simple, brilliant series of ads that will get people talking about Dixons.co.uk – loads and loads of PR value

  • Rob

    Thanks for the advice Chopski!

    I wasn’t denying its brilliance, just simply stating that it feels like the sort of project I (and the rest of my class) did while at university.

  • I am afraid I took the advice, but went to Amazon to but it!

  • I truthfully feel this is a really offensive and destructive advertising campaign – all of these high street shops are struggling to survive in this hard economic climate and then an online company comes along, encouraging what these shops are truly hating to be happening, and then encouraging it! High street shops are great – we all love visiting them and the experience of actually shopping, but the only way they can survive is through people actually buying products from them. How can we expect that to happen with campaigns encouraging the exact opposite?

  • praxis22

    Don’t go to dixons, they suck, try richer sounds, or indeed almost anyone else. clever advert though.

  • Christ T

    Should think the sales staff in DSG’s shops are feeling decidedly worried about their future; wonder if Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis have any vacancies? I think the ads will just direct customers to their rivals’ websites, especially John Lewis, where they also offer a free 5 year guarantee – something Dixons.co.uk will charge you through the nose for 😉 Dixons are no cheaper than anyone else, everyone’s competing with each other, but high-class unbiased service is priceless.

  • No, these are really good.

  • I really like it, if the intention was for me to visit their website, it’s worked!

  • Pete

    John Lewis….’Never Knowingly Undersold’….?!

  • james

    Online buying is growing more popular but is still weak in the fact that you cant physically try out different products…

    I like it. It’s a passive aggressive swipe at competitors whilst understanding their position in the market.
    It offers a way around the digital / physical boundaries of online buying. It will be interesting to see how well it does.

  • richard

    best ads ive seen for ages. and as for oliver newth.. jeez, as if those shops would give a toss about screwing their competitors.

  • Edward

    The last place on earth you want to go’ – I say no more.

  • While the ads are saying “shop around then buy cheaper online”, they are shooting themselves in the foot as the parenting company also own the retail outlets Currys and PC World ?

  • Peter Mettallo

    Real Ratners moment! MD obviously seduced by clever black polo necked agency creatives, more interested in winning awards than selling stock. You still need trust and service (technology does go wrong…) when you buy online.

  • Ben

    They may as well write ‘Learn to use google’

    The point they are hitting on is true, but I rarely buy from a high street stores online department, as online only businesses are generally cheaper. Add user reviews, forum advice and the very minor differences between rival products and you can bypass dixons/currys altogether.

  • I heard from someone (so it must be true!) that John Lewis was one of the only high street stores that was doing well in the recession. The thought being that actually when you have a load of cash you are not that worried about service and guarantees and stuff like that but when you are hard up you take more time to consider your purchase.

    What these ads do well is raise an issue and talk in a language that some people will really like – ie Joe Public. Weirdly I can see them working for both Dixons and John Lewis (if not Selfridges – I mean who buys a Telly from Selfridges?).

  • Suzie

    The last place you want to go is Dixons…exactly it is. The real competition is Amazon. Nobody beats them on price or service.

  • Best print ads i’ve seen for a long while

  • Jonathan

    Quite right Peter! Dixons are part of the same company as Currys who give appalling customer / after sales service. Buyer beware.

  • n

    Instead of spending all this money on marketing their own store as rubbish they could always invest in some staff that don’t get confused with the most simple questions; such as “where do I pay for this item”, and “what is your name”. Besides, if I’m after cheap consumer electronics I’ll buy them online, where they’re actually cheap 😛

  • Clever use of typography and font styles… but wait, to reinforce the competition brands? And, isn’t John Lewis ‘never knowingly undersold’? And don’t they also off a two year guarantee, on top of the manufacturer’s guarantee? Why bother going to Dixons?

  • Mabs

    What a ridiculous comment by Oliver Newth. Do you really think I’d forgo a potential saving because I’m worried about the fate of John Lewis. This is a smart campaign and if every advertiser was concerned about the impact their message had on the competition, then advertising wouldn’t actually work would it.

    How about these poor suffering retail giants come up with a better campaign in response then? Convince me to buy in store.

  • Many of the comments here are in agreement that the ads are great, but question the fact that you’d got to Dixons.co.uk and not Google. The commenters are forgetting that not everyone knows that you can probably find it cheaper again at an online only retailer. So I can see these being a huge success for Dixons.

    It is not the ad agencies responsibility to check that Dixons.co.uk is in fact the cheapest, or that they offer half-decent customer service. It was their role to create a standout campaign, and from a graphical, stylistic and creative point of view I think they have done an excellent job.

  • Seth Jeffery

    Mario Cavalli: “Why bother going to Dixons?” Because it’s cheaper, which is what they’re advertising.

  • Matthew Ward

    The ad it double edged.

    Dixons have promoted their brand but have honestly stated where they see themselves on the consumer pyramid with tongue’in’cheek humour. So after reading it you may well go online and see if there cheaper, job done in that case.

    But they’ve also pointed out why you go to John Lewis, Selfrdiges & Harrods, better product range, better service sometimes you haven’t got a flippin clue what Tv to buy or why and you get a neutral unbiased and informed opinion albeit a better dressed and more enthusiastic one.

    So The ad doesn’t harm the big 3 it points out their virtues, clever advertising indeed.

  • schmem

    i saw the adverts when i was on the tube yesterday to a graphic design interview on Bond St…loved it!

  • andrew

    go in John Lewis to choose a tv, then go on dixons.com to buy it….. then when it breaks in 1 year and 1 day go back to dixons to be told that you’re on your own

  • I like these a lot from a conceptual perspective but I worry that they are designing for other designers rather than the man on the street.

    Just anecdotally, my friends in marketing love these but those not in marketing or design totally miss the competitor branding. They therefore find it confusing that dixons would suggest their high street stores are worse than the online store.

  • Will

    John Lewis has ‘Never knowingly undersold. If I was JL salesman would sit there with my laptop open at Dixons.co.uk and tell customers who are browsing, we’ll sell (the item) it cheaper than Dixons, and give you better guarantee. If played well it becomes free advertising for their competitors.

    You see, It’s not a bad idea, it’s just easy for a competitor to turn it around. It’s not a defensible position, therefore a weak brand proposition.

  • Bclgrh

    This campaign is turd and here’s why.
    People that shop in selfridges don’t give a monkeys about dixon and would never deal with their crap sales staff. All i take out is selfridges is a good retail experience.
    If I want cheap I go online. I went into a dixons and said to the sales person I can get this tv cheaper online and asked if he could match it, he said no and I walked out.

    If your going to be cheap you better be the cheapest otherwise your buggered.

    So I expect that john lewis an selfridges are pleased that dixons have paid for some ads that say they are quality shops.

  • Couldn’t help wondering about the limits of this approach with a general election approaching – had a stab at a political version here (http://www.liammurray.co.uk/2009/10/fun-with-brand.html)

  • Chris Matthews

    Great ad – very exciting.

    It doesn’t mention that the returns policy in John Lewis is better – everyone knows Dixons, Curreys and PC World rip people off in the end. Never ever shop in those places.

  • Concept, good.

    Practice, bad.

    If you’re going to sell yourself purely on price, and emphasise the point that you don’t have good customer service, then you really need to make sure you’re ahead on price. Bearing in mind John Lewis’s ‘never knowingly undersold’ policy, and that Harrods have responded that on one of the few lines they have in common with Dixons they’re acutally £100 cheaper, this REALLY is shooting themselves in the foot.

    Dixons aren’t that cheap, and they don’t have good customer service. Drawing attention to the latter in any way is a bad idea.

  • Excellent work, good to see. Well done chaps.

  • I think this is a great idea, but will this concept get across to your everyday Joe Bloggs?? I don’t think my dad would get this?

  • I think this is a great idea, but will this concept get across to your everyday Joe Bloggs?? I don’t think my dad would get this?

  • Robert Hardy

    As a small retailer of televisions I obviously find the advice to come in and effectively waste my time totally offensive. If I had their advertising budget I would run a campaign poster next to it explaining what will actually happen when the guy who brings it refuses to install it or if he does install wont show you how to work it is unlikely to take away the old unit or the empty box and wont be available when you discover that something hasn’t been set up right or that one of your older units will no longer work on the new tv. And as for the response you get if you actually have a fault within or just out of guarantee well that couldnt be printed on an advert likely to be viewed by children. Normally when you take into account all of the hidden extras and the overpriced leads and mains adapters the prices are an awful lot closer then would first appear. High tech products generally need high street back uo shop haggle by all means but shop locally!
    Robert Hardy (Hardys Electrical, New Milton)

  • Phil Jones

    It would appear that most people posting don’t seem to even realise that Dixons is online only, having totally different pricing to the currys stores. Try and find a Dixons in your high street, go on! I think they all turned into currys stores about 3 years ago? shows how much people actually pay attention to the highstreet anymore.

  • Keebs

    Well it’s been on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show and basically got free advertising on the BBC. If the intention was to cause a little controversy then job done methinks… In this climate all would appear to be fair in love, war and advertising and I don’t think it will have done the High Street any harm. If people can afford to go to a John Lewis store and buy a TV… They will.

  • Roland Grant

    Has anyone tried to get faulty goods bought from Dixons resolved? John Lewis not only offer “Never Knowingly Undersold” which is their price match promise (for identical offers mind you), JL also give you FREE 5 year guarantee on tellys, exceptional service, don’t quible over problems, and free delivery ANYWHERE in the UK, no matter how far, on all goods over £30. I know where the FIRST place I’d go is!

  • Marilyn

    John Lewis will always price match, as they always offer ‘never knowingly undersold’ – I would much prefer to shop with them, as you get the superior customer service (even from their online ordering system), and peace of mind with a 5 year warranty, and you’ll get either a replacement or a brand new (tv). I wouldn’t waste my time or money with Dixons.
    I think the ads are a little on the tacky side, and have a hint of desparation about them and I don’t think Selfridges or John Lewis will be worrying about them too much.

  • Yes, John Lewis is Never Knowingly Undersold, but they ‘don’t price match any online or catalogue competitors’ (i.e. Dixons.co.uk).

    Clever, but I can’t

  • Ryan Bellinger

    Be intersting to see what the competition policies view is on this ad? Intersesting and very intelligent slogan, but certainly a bold move by DSGi. I suppose they are trying to take greater market share in anticipation of Best Buys entry to the UK market. That will be very interesting. I think DSGi’s team are more than capable tho. Browett is a proven genius in the world of retailing, especially after his massive achievements with tescos online. There is not a better man for the test.

  • Siobhan M

    Perhaps it’s just me but with every thing that has happened with the economy in the last twelve months I’m less likely than ever to buy of a national retailer like Dixons. I have gained a greater respect and appreciation for local electronics retailers like those in the Euronics group. So, I’ll be going to http://www.armaghelectrical.com thankyou!

  • Very clever and well thought out campaign… most probably costing a fortune but not as much as the loss of sales. It is too complex for most of the general public and when they visit the site (without seeing adverts) and see “Dixons…The last place you want to go” it doesn’t exactly instill confidence before an online transaction.

    The core of the idea is very true and honest but the execution is not as well thought out as the concept… terrible strap-line!

  • And now its been removed from the site!

    Good move

  • rockybank

    Dixons.co.uk are crap. They aren’t cheaper. They also have a 3 strikes and out policy on returned faulty goods. Meaning that if a product is returned as faulty they try and sell it at least twice more before removing it.

    Avoid at all cost.

  • Nice campaign but I don’t fall for these kind of adds anymore. What I try with my hands is what makes me buy it.

  • Nice to see a business using good old fashioned marketing – know your audience, engage, thought provoking rather than the same old boring marketing everyone does. Not keen on Dixons but kudos for the ad!

  • LOVE IT.

  • nick

    even if its not true, its still a good idea…and it works well

  • nick

    even if its not true, its still a good idea…and it works well

  • Joe

    Ha ha, same could be said about buying on the web.

  • I find a lot of fussy graphics can dilute the message and they may be a little dull but I am sure they will work well.