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Currys’ TikTok fame isn’t just about weirdness – there’s smart strategy there too

By Jason Cotterill, Digital strategist

Space & Time


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May 28, 2024 | 7 min read

For The Drum’s retail focus week, Jason Cotterill of agency Space & Time takes a close look behind an unlikely viral star: electronics retailer Currys.

A viral TikTok video for retailer Currys

Weirdness, bravery and smart strategy: What's the key to Currys' viral success / Credit: Currys

Anyone who spends as much time as I do researching cultural trends (read: doom-scrolling on Tiktok) may have been surprised recently to see some unique and hilarious videos from British electronics retailer Currys – an otherwise rather traditional brand.

These videos range from, but are certainly not limited to: a horse kicking a chicken, a chicken laying an egg on a Currys employee, and a Currys employee rolling on the floor eating a curry.

All these videos have one thing in common: they’re really weird, but absolutely hilarious.

The brand’s creative ideas seem to be non-stop. And they couldn’t come at a better time, after a turbulent brand identity crisis with the merging of Currys & PC World.

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Brands just want to have fun

It’s not just TikTok: Currys has all the hallmarks of a brand beginning to hit its stride and find its voice. Its new tagline, ‘Beyond Techspectations’, opens up a lot of creative opportunities, and that portmanteau gives a clear indication it’s open to having a bit of fun. Alex Baldock, its chief executive, put this recent success down to a renewed focus on brand-led marketing, citing the plan to create “customers for life”.

‘Beyond Techspectations’ has already brought some great adverts: ‘Drenched’, ‘Beards of Knowledge’ and most recently ‘No Distractions’. All of these share DNA with those TikTok videos: really weird, but absolutely hilarious. This creative expression continued by taking an April Fools joke literally, offering curries at Currys, generating great PR and buzz online.

Is it time for ads to be funny again?

All of this content and focus on brand-building is great, but what can we take away from this? As marketers, do we just need to start being more funny and do some silly stuff? No. Well, yes – but it’s not that simple. Each video above has a solid reasoning behind it and that’s what good marketing is all about: adapting your strategy and content to what resonates with your target consumer, but keeping it relevant to your products.

The more skeptical reader may be asking, how does a horse kicking a chicken stay relevant to the product offering of an electronics retailer? Well, the horse kicked the chicken into the Ninja Double Stack XL air-fryer, which just launched and was already generating significant buzz online. By jumping on a trending video on TikTok, and a trending product, with a bit of creativity and humor, Currys racked up 3.7M views and 269k likes.

As for the curries at Currys PR stunt and those ‘Drenched’ ads: all of that promoted the brand’s Cash for Trash initiative, which declared a “war on waste”. A noble cause, and an excellent initiative given that the average UK home is estimated to get rid of £800 worth of tech every year with just below 50% ending up in a landfill. Given the trend of consumers valuing brands who are actually trying to become more sustainable, this will resonate well with them.

Brand bravery

Dan Rubel, brand and marketing director at Currys, gave a fantastic talk at the Criteo Commerce Summit in April. As well as explaining the difficulty of getting buy-in from senior leadership and his own worries of perhaps being “too” weird, one thing that really stuck with me was his encouragement to be brave. As Rubel tells it, that worry peaked when he saw the first cut of that ‘Beards of Knowledge’, but he was put at ease when the advert received some of the brand’s highest testing scores in focus groups.

Those viral TikTok videos would not have been possible without that instillment of trust and encouragement to be brave – from the brand’s own marketing team and agency.

There are multiple reasons for Currys’ recent success, but it’s great to see a traditional ‘supertanker’ business like Currys being rewarded for thinking outside the box and leveraging creativity.

I believe if Currys continue to be brave and embrace the weird, it will continue to gain the trust and respect from UK consumers. Taking advantage of social trends via TikTok has clearly been fruitful, but it’s something that can get old fast. I hope to see Currys continue to innovate and find new ways to surprise us and go beyond (our) techspectations.

For more deep analysis of the heroes and villains of retail in 2024, head over to our focus week hub.

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