Argos ‘iPhone app’ advert. Was this for the benefit of the consumer or the city analyst?

I like to imagine that this is how it went down….


MARKETING: “OK, guys, we’re a major UK high street retailer and our brand is synonymous with value. Our new advertising campaign is really going to rocket us to the next level.

Remember, as part of our e-retail strategy we built an iphone app that let’s consumers check stock levels and order? Well, that’s our new advert.”

MANAGEMENT: “Really? An advert about our iPhone app. Are you sure? How many of our customers actually own an iphone?”

MARKETING:“That’s not the point. We get to use cool words like ‘iphone’ and ‘app’. The kids will love it.”

MANAGEMENT: “Yes, but they aren’t really our core demographic are they. So…how many of our customers own an iphone?”

MARKETING:“Oh, loads. There’s 2.5million iPhone in the UK”

MANAGEMENT: “Yes, and there are 50 million adults. So at best we’ll be talking to 5% of the UK market.”

MARKETING:“’iPhone’ and ‘app’….they are cool words, the market will be expecting us to be talk this way.”

MANAGEMENT: “And of those 5%, how many will be Argos target customers? 50% at best? You want me to sign off several million pounds to pay for an advertising campaign that potentially talks to less than 3% of our potential audience?”

….well they did. Watch it here.


OK, I’m being a little glib and I actually applaud the iPhone app. Retail has always been a driving force in web innovation. More directly, one of Argos’ core values is convenience and this app is perfectly aligned to that sentiment. The strapline “Find it, Get it, Argos it” is a perfect evolution of a brand message that has been developargos_iphoneed over many years. 

But to base an advertising campaign so closely aligned to a single device and platform is highly dubious.

On a global level, Apple is still a minority. Its share of the overall mobile handset market is 2.7% (Gartner 2010). The big hitters, Nokia and Samsung, still control over 50% of all handsets sold.

Of course, segment this by smartphones and Apple becomes a dominant force. But the penetration of smartphones in the UK across the Argos demographic has to be less than 20%.

Nice way to alienate 97% of your target audience.

And what about the other smartphone platforms? US analyst and research provider NPD released figures last month that suggested the Android platform had leap-frogged the iPhone OS to take second place in the smartphone OS wars.

Does Argos management really understand this? Or is this just a case of jumping on a ‘buzzword’ bandwagon? Was this exercise for the benefit of the consumer or the city analyst?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s