Why did the rental brand Aaron’s take advantage of Mr. T to increase brand recognition

Rental retailer Aaron’s is looking to increase brand awareness through bilingual TV commercials as well as print and out-of-home ads – all with a little help from Mr. T.

Last month, The 67-year-old furniture, electronics and home appliance brand has released a series of new commercials featuring Mr. T and the guys from the Aa-Team, who, behind boxes and piles of clothes, share a message in English and Spanish with the aim of educating viewers about affordable furniture options with a focus on price and value. In addition to television and print ads featuring Mr. T, the campaign, created by Reckon Branding, also features in-store and out-of-home advertising to complete the full-funnel approach.

Aaron’s mission is to increase awareness of his brand and get customers to head to the store or visit his website and make a purchase. After launching this campaign, Aaron’s saw a 40% increase in awareness of its target audience between 2021 and 2022, per measurement data from tracking group Morning Consult. The increase was partly attributed to Hispanic demographics, as these ads were also in Spanish.

“Every part of this has been integrated throughout the entire campaign, from in-store materials to national media, has been translated for Hispanic audiences,” said Tom Carey, Aaron’s director of marketing.

In the same vein as traditional campaigns, Aaron’s wanted to use advertising to raise public awareness, to build that awareness for the same amount of money, but also to use creative techniques to ensure that the message was seen and had traction in the market.

It’s unclear how much Aaron spent on the campaign, as Carey declined to share details. Aaron’s allocates approximately 20% of its advertising budget to print and 30% of its budget to digital media is split evenly between broadcast and advertising on digital media such as Twitter and YouTube. Carey declined to share where the rest of the budget went. Kantar data shows that over the course of 2021, Aaron spent just over $175,000 on advertising.

It is crucial for brands to communicate with the widest audience possible. If the content is true to the target audience, using multiple creators and celebrities to reach the right audience can be extremely effective. “Using celebrity talent helps creativity break through the clutter on television and CTV,” said Dave Coleman, vice president of strategy and development at media agency Ocean Media. “Over time, if they stick with the same celebrity, that can also help provide instant brand awareness when they see that celebrity in a commercial.”

To get a lot of brand attention for this campaign, Aaron’s was talking to several popular personalities, Carey said. But Mr. T proved to be the best pair. The campaign also marks the first time Aaron’s has used an American celebrity for a bilingual campaign.

“The partnership with Mr. T, an iconic and nostalgic figure from the ’80s, is a great way to explore older millennials and Gen Xers with a beloved character from their childhood,” said Ryan Detert, CEO of creative agency Influential.

Showing a recognizable personality can work beyond simply provoking feelings of nostalgia among certain demographics. “Our analysis of creative data shows that the presence of a celebrity in an ad can deliver a significant performance boost, but it depends on brand, platform and a host of other variables,” said Jackie Paulus, Americas marketing director at Creative VidMob analytics platform.

Aaron’s has also seen a dramatic shift in views among these audiences when it comes to how they view the self-rental business, Carey said. To demonstrate a more personal touch, he said Aaron’s campaign has been tweaked from the previous one, following the principle of “less is more”, keeping the important call to action in sight and appealing to the customer’s desire to buy.

Going forward, Aaron’s goal is to continue to make deeper connections with consumers.

“Reducing that barrier and this apprehension about renting on their own is one of the overall goals of this and making that person feel comfortable,” Carey said. “This is not just customer reaction to the campaign, but how stores and store personnel have embraced it.”


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