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Geek Squad Doesn’t Advertise. Yet A Luminous Geek Squad Logo Appears Whenever I Close My Eyes.

June 6, 2009

“I believe advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable.”

Robert Stephens, Geek Squad Founder 

Isn’t this disingenuous?   

One caveat: some years ago Geek Squad paid us a routine visit and erased everything on my wife’s computer’s hard drive. Their response was, “that kind of thing happens.” That could happen to anyone, but it has caused me to withhold “remarkable” status from them. 

Geek Squad was built on advertising, provided you are willing to think at all deeply about what advertising is.  Erased hard drives aside, Geek Squad service was good, but not remarkable. But Geek Squad did advertising brilliantly. I would define advertising as purchasing something and putting a controlled message on it. They purchased cars and t-shirts and tie pins and then put a beautifully crafted, tightly controlled message on them.  They cooked this down into a slogan: “We heard you need a nerd.” That is advertising. It isn’t word of mouth (although, like all good advertising, it sparked some) and it isn’t even a little bit like social media. There was no conversation. There was a logo, endlessly applied, and a message, beautifully controlled.  

They further controlled their message by dictating how their representatives dressed. (Full on geek.) They were the most relentlessly branded, top-down, on-brief organization I have ever encountered.

And that was what was remarkable about them.

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