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Geek Fight! Did Newegg Violate Best Buy’s Property?

by Noah Kravitz | June 10, 2011June 10, 2011 4:00 pm PDT

The scene is not necessarily atypical, though certainly extreme in its presentation: Average Joe walks into a big box retailer to buy a new computer. Teenage-looking salesperson is eager to please but comes up way short in the helpful knowledge department. Customer winds up grumpy and sales kid winds up with egg on his face and an easy sale walking out the door. Though the kid does, as the top rated YouTube comment points out, look like Ron Weasley from Harry Potter. That’s gotta be worth something, right?

Online electronics store Newegg has a new TV ad that’s ruffled some Best Buy feathers, and now the scrum has gone social. The ad in question, embedded and briefly described above, has racked up nearly half a million views on YouTube. It also begat a letter from BB Corporate to Newegg, which begat a response on the latter’s Facebook page. Seems Best Buy is upset by the clone of their store shown in the ad – from the employees blue polo shirt to the look and feel of the store itself. Newegg saw fit to post an image of the letter BB sent them and also added a disclaimer to the new version video of the ad (embedded above) – a standard issue kind of thing with a snarky line at the end:

NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS COMMERCIAL

It’s no surprise that the Facebookers and YouTubers are coming down on Newegg’s side, given the company’s scrappy, Web-savvy vibe – at least in comparison to the much more buttoned-down Best Buy. But does Best Buy have a legitimate gripe here? Is it alright – ethically if not legally – for retailers to call one another out, whether by name or by easily identifiable visual cues, in their advertisements? If it’s alright, did Newegg cross the line by flat-out portraying “ANY BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENTS (BUT NONE IN PARTICULAR) THAT PROVIDE POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE” (caps theirs)?

And what about Best Buy’s gripe about Newegg’s use of the term “geek” in their new “Geek On” campaign? Most of the TV-watching American public is aware of BB’s “Geek Squad” tech support service, so is it a clear punk move on Newegg’s part to launch a marketing ploy so close in name? Or is “Geek” such a universal term at this point that its fair game for anyone to use – even in a case like this where it seems pretty clear that Newegg is already slinging mud in Best Buy’s direction?

Check out the ad and the Facebook post if you haven’t already, and chime in with your take: Is this what advertising is like in the 21st Century world of TV-meets-online media, or are Best Buy and Newegg giving Geeks a bad name?


Noah Kravitz

Noah Kravitz mourned the day that Star Castle was replaced in the pizza parlour he frequented as a kid. The sadness ended when he saw an older kid...

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