J&R Music and Computer World has launched its first TV campaign, touting the fact that it has been doing business "Since 1971" in five spots employing humorous vignettes that take place in the store.

The retailer is a New York institution, with a megastore that takes up an entire city block on Park Row in Lower Manhattan that has 300,000 square feet of space and holds some 40,000 products.

Not surprisingly, the campaign developed by independent shop Toy is designed to showcase J&R's broad product selection and its helpful knowledgeable staff.

Overall, the effort communicates that no matter how geeky, frustrated or intense customers may be when it comes to purchasing music and electronic items, J&R is the store that has shared their interests and passion for almost 38 years. In these tough economic times, pricing is also a key campaign focus.

The spots include "Air Guitar," in which a customer gets a bit too exuberant in the musical instrument department; "Quiz," a game of knowledge J&R's computer staff is sure to win; and "Headphones," wherein customers rock out to heavy metal music.

To achieve that goal, J&R -- which had previously relied on product-centric local print ads -- tapped Toy in September for a concerted brand push.

Anne Bologna, CEO of Toy, N.Y., said the campaign "is about longevity, endurance, safety -- trust in someone that has been there and therefore will be there for you since 1971. It's really a heritage story. The campaign itself is engaging and entertaining and makes you feel good and laugh while it tells you something."

In crafting the work, "We didn't want something that spells big box," said agency CCO Ari Merkin. "We wanted to go where the big-box retailers couldn't. The brand has an incredible loyal following and just shopping there gives you a sense of feeling like an insider."

Allen Adamson, managing director of Landor Associates, New York, offered this appraisal of the campaign strategy: "Brand equity stories are always important, and heritage stories are even more important right now. They're so scarce they can be more effective because they stand out more."

The client has typically spent about $20 million annually in measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

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