11 Sep

So I realise it’s been a while, but to be fair ad 4 has been opposite my kitchen window literally all summer. Usually the updating of the next ad gives me a kick up the arse to get around to writing an outstanding article (I mean that in the pejorative sense), but this particular creative has been welcoming me each morning for the last 2 months. Combine this with the fact it shows a BBQ and my third floor flat has no garden or outside area associated with it, and you can understand my ongoing lack of motivation.

Given that the ad itself shows an Argos Barbeque, I guess an all-summer residency on my billboard is appropriate. They’re actually promoting a range of products, including a kids’ plastic musical instrument and a water gun (why couldn’t I get that one?!), and the fact that you can now reserve online and start using your purchase on the same day. At first I was excited. “Brilliant,” I thought, “We’re now at a stage where internet purchases really are as quick as real life.” But as I studied the advert closer, I realised that I wasn’t actually going to be buying anything online at all. Essentially what the ad is saying is “Decide you want something today, come in and buy it.”

I’ve never really understood Argos. Rather than simply stocking items on shelves like any normal shop, they make you go through the farce of huddling next to strangers – many often with screaming kids called Chantelle, Stacey or similar – painstakingly flicking through those laminated (and often sticky) pages before finding that all powerful 5 digit code for an item you already know the name of. Yet whenever I type it into that blue (also sticky) oversized calculator, 99.9% of the time I’m told the item is out of stock. Therefore I must admit, the opportunity to do all of that in the comfort of my own home was definitely welcome.

The Argos site is clean with a prominent search bar. I found the barbeques quickly enough and soon located the “BBQ Starter Pack – 5 Piece” shown in the advert at a bargain £29.99. The set itself is pretty comprehensive, including tongs, turner, fork and cover in addition to the “black in colour, wire cooking grill round BBQ.”

Reading the customer reviews, all had been provided in August 2011 which suggests the advertising campaign had worked. The majority were positive, with Bugsy95 (aged 45 – 54) claiming that she had purchased it for use in a holiday caravan and that it was “superb value for money.” Sassy (aged 65 or over) wasn’t so sure, claiming that it was “almost impossible to put together” and required “superglue and super human effort” to finally build. I can’t even ‘Build A Bear,’ so the prospect of requiring “super human effort” to put together a barbeque was beginning to concern me somewhat.

I checked availability in Kensington and was amazed to see they had 4 available. I clicked “Reserve” and was offered the chance to buy online and have the barbeque delivered to me the same day via For me this would’ve been a much better service to make use of (for a barbeque I didn’t need) and to be honest I’m not sure why this wasn’t mentioned in the billboard. Even so, I did as I was asked and typed in my mobile number to receive my reservation number. Almost instantly I received a text showing the number and a little reminder that the new catalogue was out now.

Argos itself was remarkably painless; paying for my item, receiving it and walking out the door took less than 4 minutes plus I encountered absolutely no screaming kids. However, given weekend tube problems I then had to carry my new purchase all the way home which made for a painful 30mins. Again, a home delivery service really would have been very welcome.

Given my lack of any sort of outside area associated with my flat, I called my sister to ask if I could use her garden to host a family dinner and she duly accepted. As predicted, I absolutely sucked at building the unit and relied heavily on her husband Tom’s help. But to be fair, even with my procrastination it was still only a 15 minute job.

Sassy's claims of requiring "super human effort" were slightly exaggerated.

Using the barbeque was extremely simple and although it only reached my knees, it was actually at an optimum height for monitoring the food. As instructed, I brought sausages and as per the advert I burnt them nicely. Steak, salmon and burgers all fared much better, and combined with my mum’s salad and prawns made for a seriously good meal that brought the whole family together.

Burning the sausages as instructed. Please note my sister's significantly better BBQ in the background.

All in all, Argos’ service was quick and easy to use although I still don’t understand why they didn’t simply promote the home delivery service as that would have made the purchase experience truly painless. The barbeque itself was (apparently) easy to build and the evening that it helped create brought the whole family together which made for a fun Sunday night. Whilst this was personally my most expensive New Billboard Day, it was also my favourite.


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