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RadioShack reinvents itself as a crypto platform with wild tweets

RadioShack reinvents itself as a crypto platform with wild tweets
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Generation Z may not be familiar with their grandparents’ RadioShack, but they’re getting to know its replacement. The 100-year-old retailer reintroduced himself on Twitter this week with a series of often profane tweets, some since deleted, filled with crude comments and drug references.

Variations on “What the hell is going on?” They dotted the comment threads, but a glance at the company’s Twitter profile contained part of the answer: RadioShack is no longer the electronics store Americans flocked to for generations, but an online cryptocurrency company that also sells batteries.

“It is our voice, a new voice, one for the people,” said Abel Czupor, director of marketing. “RadioShack’s audience used to be just a larger demographic, but as times have changed and e-commerce has taken over, the old RadioShack voice is no longer relevant.”

After a decade of decline, RadioShack was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in 2015. In its struggle to find a brand identity, the chain twice declared bankruptcy and went from having approximately 5,200 stores in the US to in 2014 to about 400 when the private equity firm Retail E-Commerce Ventures (REV) in 2020.

That year, the vulnerabilities of the retail industry were fully realized during the coronavirus pandemic, as illustrated by the rush of bankruptcy filings. It was then that Miami-based REV acquired several struggling retailers trying to revive them at online-focused stores, including home goods store Pier 1 Imports, sporting goods chain Modell’s and discount retailer Stein Mart.

REV was formed by Alex Mehr, the co-founder of the online dating site zoosk.com, and Tai Lopez, an online influencer known for advising on her lavish lifestyle. They launched RadioShack Swap, a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange platform that allows users to exchange coins or tokens, a format that offers more flexibility and lower transaction fees than trading. His token, called $RADIO, is worth about a penny.

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On the RadioShack Swap website, the company said that its relaunch was aimed at people who would not normally think of themselves as cryptocurrency investors. “There is a real generation gap between the average cryptocurrency user and the average business decision maker,” the company said. “This demographic difference creates a substantial psychological barrier to cryptocurrency adoption.”

In a May release, the company reported transaction volume of $40 million, with a daily average of $500,000 to $2 million. “The exchange is adding two to three new tokens every week, and we continue to see a lot of interest among gaming token startups, in particular. They understand that the RadioShack brand is consistent with their own game,” Mehr said.

However, with his latest Twitter marketing strategy, reactions were mixed. One day, the platform itself “randomly closed our account and blocked us.” Czupor said, although some tweets were later restored.

Some internet figures with a large following posted warnings, vocation it is an “advertising campaign to court public favor for his crypto scheme” and urges people not to fall for it. Jack Appleby, writer for Morning Brew’s Future Social newsletter, said that “engagement doesn’t matter if it doesn’t translate into sales,” noting the value of his token in a thread discussing his strategy.

“Those reviews are completely false,” the company said in an email. “Sales have actually grown since we started upping our Twitter game over the last few weeks.”

Kylie Cammon, founder of social media marketing consultancy Flying Hare Social, called RadioShack’s tweets an effective way to gain visibility. “Everyone who is interested in cryptocurrencies is interested in this type of humor,” she said. “They have definitely got what they were looking for there.”

Although some of the content may be considered offensive, Cammon said his target audience “doesn’t necessarily care.” It was a gamble for RadioShack to go after the eyeballs while risking alienating a larger group, she said.

RadioShack, which declined to identify the “inside” behind the Twitter posts, made clear its commitment to the strategy. In a tweet full of Internet shorthand: “Shack intern here. I wanted to take a second to reflect on my post. Ik, are you waiting for me to say, in my wildest dreams I never thought that tweet would go viral and I would apologize. … No, we were not hacked, and no, I am not fired. Seat belt…”

The campaign comes at a bad time for the crypto industry. Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, is trading near $19,000, more than 70 percent below its November peak. South Korean crypto project Terra, with a token and so-called “algorithmic stablecoin,” saw much of its value disappear for a few days in May. That led to losses across the market, including crypto bank Celsius, which would freeze assets and hedge funds. Capital of the three arrowswhich would go into liquidation this week.

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