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RadioShack comes under fire for tuning out Christmas

(MoneyWatch) The familiar complaint of the disaffected Christmas shopper is now hitting electronic retailers RadioShack (RSH).

The American Family Association is calling for shoppers to boycott the beleaguered retailer over what the religious advocacy group calls its "censorship of the word 'Christmas.'"

By now, attacks on retailers who use the more neutral term "holiday" has become an annual event akin to the lighting of the Rockefeller Center tree. Without fail, the complaints about how Christmas is being left out of the holiday party begin as soon as the first tinsel-toned commercials air on television. 

But for RadioShack, the complaint may serve as more of a blessing than a lump of coal. 

RadioShack, after all, once had a lock on supplying Americans with blank cassette tapes, odd-sized batteries and parts for ham radios. But in recent years, the company has struggled to remain relevant. Not only are electronics aficionados far and few between, but Amazon (AMZN) and big-box stores such as Best Buy (BBY) have proven tough rivals.

RadioShack is working hard on creating a "brand transformation," as its chief marketing officer told MediaPost's Marketing Daily earlier this year. To that end, the retailer started selling a popular line of electronics accessories, Beats by Dr. Dre, and created an envelope-pushing ad featuring Robin Thicke singing "Blurred Lines."

So far, the jury is still out on whether the rebranding will work. While its stock is up 34 percent this year through Monday, Fitch Ratings recently pointed to weak third-quarter results as a concern.

On a RadioShack Facebook page, the proposed boycott is generating a lot of discussion, with many consumers lauding the retailer's decision to be inclusive of all holidays in its marketing campaigns. 

For RadioShack executives, the boycott from the AFA is probably delivering the best holiday gift of all. That's the gift of relevance. 

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