14 Dec

So, that Robert Dyas ad…

I was doing my best to ignore the X Factor final, last night (my lovely lady was adamant that it was essential watching), when I saw that ‘Robert Dyas’ was trending on Twitter.

My immediate thought was ‘why?’. At the risk of sounding rude, Robert Dyas isn’t the most exciting brand. In my mind, it’s a high street store that sells bath plugs, fuses, screws and nails, and rakes. Why was it trending? Why were thousands – possibly millions – of people talking about this shop, which, essentially, sells odds and sods.

I clicked on the trending topic and, within a few tweets, saw what the fuss was about (it’s all over Facebook, today, and was talked about on LBC radio station). I’m assuming that many of you have already seen it, but, if not, Robert Dyas’ Christmas ad is a bizarre, low budget effort, with staff members stating their sexuality, followed by the products they’d recommend. You have to watch it to truly understand. Here it is:

My first thought was: ‘That’s a spoof. There’s no way it’s anything other than a spoof’.
… but the staff are so deadpan, sexuality is a topic of conversation, and brands want to appear inclusive.

…but (again), it can’t be real because it’s so bad, so wooden, so cringeworthy… and what has being gay or straight got to do with buying a drill, a plastic minion, or a tree?
They brought something to the fore which I didn’t even think of as a problem for Robert Dyas: I’d never even considered whether they did or didn’t care about their customers’ sexual preferences. It’s not like people wear a label stating their sexuality, when they buy plug fuses.
I’m still almost certain it’s a hilarious sketch, rather than a serious attempt to appear inclusive, but Robert Dyas have yet to make a statement on this, radio station callers were genuinely unsure, and (going the sketch route) it’s so well acted.

So, I have a few theories:

1. Either a customer survey showed that it was felt staff had homophobic attitudes/didn’t cater for gay or bi customers, or an internal survey showed that employees felt the company was homophobic. Off the back of that, Robert Dyas created a genuine, yet incredibly clumsy, advert to show a change in attitude.

2. They’ve accidentally gone the ‘so bad it’s good’ route (think: Cillit Bang), and now have a real ‘hit’ on their hands.

3. They’ve deliberately aimed for ‘so bad it’s good’.

4. They’re simply showing British humour at its finest, right near Christmas, when great comedy shows are shown on repeat: Monty Python, Morecambe and Wise, Only Fools and Horses.

5. Much like beers, airlines, soap powder (I was always told that these are the hardest products to come up with an idea for), what can you say about hardware/DIY that’s exciting, or relevant to the actual brand? What can Robert Dyas say that’s different to B & Q?
So… Robert Dyas have just gone down a route that’s completely irrelevant to their brand, and sector, but gets them attention – raises brand awareness – simply by being bloody funny.

Which of these theories do you subscribe to? Do you have a different theory?

Whatever the case, people are talking about both the ad and Robert Dyas; on social media, on radio, in newspapers. It’s garnered as much attention as the John Lewis ad, using about a hundredth of the budget.

A high street store that sells bits and bobs, and is a bit fusty, is now all over the most up-to-date communication channels.

If the humour is intentional, it’s hilarious.

If the humour is unintentional, it’s still hilarious.

It might be the work of a genius. It might be a complete cock-up. Whatever the case, it’s worked.

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