Uniting guitar enthusiasts with Their dreams

The Challenge

The Chicago Music Exchange (CME) was trying to survive at a time when the massive Guitar Centers of the world were scooping up small, local guitar stores and eating them alive. CME had a ridiculously extensive stock of quality (and expensive) guitars that meant something to people who really knew their guitars. In fact, guitar players from superbands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers would stop by the store when they were in town to talk to the owner and the guys who worked there, and pick up a few guitars.

What We did

CME knew they’d be fine if they could sell just a fraction of the guitars sold by Guitar Center, so we appealed to people who would pay for their guitars by positioning CME as the place for real guitar lovers. We exaggerated the ways their customers demonstrated their passion for the very best guitars in a TV and poster campaign, and walked away with One Show Gold and Silver, the highest creative honors in US advertising. Ironically, CME got so big and grew so much that they had to move into a new store that was just about as big as a Guitar Center.