Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kmart will make you SHI* your pants…

Seriously, where did this ad come from?

Kudos to the K!

Ship my pants, ship my drawers and, my personal favorite, ship my nightie.

30-seconds of slight variations on the same double-entendre delivered in rapid succession.
Bathroom humor at its finest; the spot is a silly play on words delivered with a flat affect for added giggles.

Could Kmart have FINALLY found a personality all its own?

In a (retail) world where Target and Walmart have so eloquently carved separate personas, incumbent and former discount juggernaut Kmart was all but ousted.

Seriously. Who is Kmart for? We must have asked the question a thousand times.

With Target taking care of upper-income and design-conscious shoppers and Walmart on call to offer everything to everyone else, Kmart can’t get a single customer to take notice.

But with this spot – we notice.

Like the often neglected, attention-starved little brother, they’re outspoken and they’re spunky. It’s a counter-culture approach to marketing that can be oh-so effective.

The attitude reminds me of when Burger King first introduced us to the King. Or when Carl’s Jr. started opting to sell fast food with raw SEX (latest ad even banned from certain TV play).
You’re saying “OK, Daniel – how is a poop joke like that creepy king or girls in bikinis that fling pulled pork on each other?”

It’s rage against the machine. The spots are a breath of fresh air in a room filled with the stench of the often overplayed, safe, homogenous advertising provided by category leaders.

They’re saying let the leaders cater to the masses (a.k.a. women/mom, and kids). We’ll cater to all the niche markets less concerned with brand (also design, quality, and, when it comes to food, health).

We’d be remiss not to mention the crux of the ad.
Can’t find the right size/color/quantity of item in-store? Kmart clerks will research inventory online (via super-sleek tablets, no less) and find, sell, and ship merchandise right to your doorstep…for free.

Now, if only we knew where we could (still) find a Kmart…

Thanks for the laugh guys! Hope it’s just the start of a long run of lewd, crude, and rude commercials. We’re all ears. :P #ShipMyPants

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A polished Penney is still just a Penney

Vision: January 2012
...And no one wants a Penney.

At least that’s what performance under Ron Johnson’s regime would lead you to believe.

Released late February, Holiday/Q4 sales reports closed the books on the first operating year of a turnaround strategy that failed to take hold. In 2012, JCP amassed nearly a billion dollars in losses with revenue tumbling nearly 25 percent.

We weighed in on JCP’s new logo and their controversial pro-gay Father’s Day creative last year, so we’d be remiss not to comment on the changing of the guard.

Johnson Out, Ullman (back) in.

Johnson, a former star executive from both Apple and Target landed at JCP with such promise; now, ousted from his post as CEO after just 16 months. In a true “Leno 2.0” Tonight Show fashion, the board brought back Mike Ullman, a man who held the post for 7 unimpressive years leading up to Johnson’s arrival in late 2011.

Was it too soon?


Erratic decision making is the mark of a [brand] in distress. You can have empathy for JCP’s plight; it’s easy to play “wait and see” when you’re not already fighting for survival.

As marketing professionals, we have a heightened sense of awareness for the idiosyncrasies of branding. But surely the general public can note there’s been something fresh and new with regards to the last twelve months at JCP.

Pricing – Weekly category promotions and erratic couponing were ousted in favor of everyday low pricing and simple sales.

Creatively speaking – There’s a new energy and spice in their fast-paced, musical TV spots; there’s a great vibrancy and flavor to their print ads and store fliers.

Looking in-store – Muddled cream subbed for bold white and crowded homogenous blocks of racks swapped for new “store within a store” boutique brands.

While the changes made might not have resonated with legacy shoppers, it was by design. Far too reliant on an aging population, Johnson’s JCP was meant to woo a new generation of buyers. And his leadership was pulled before the aura of the transformation had a chance to deliver new demo dollars.

Attention, Interest, Desire, Conviction, Closeremember the Sales Cycle from Marketing 101? Well, it takes time to work its magic. Johnson’s changes definitely secured attention and interest; maybe a bit of desire as well. But conviction and close didn’t come fast enough for the board.

Fool JCP once, shame on you. Fool JCP twice, shame on JCP.

What new vision does Ullman bring this go-around and what magic could it work over Johnson’s vision that would finally move JCP off life-support?

Is his (re-)post interim or permanent? Is the goal to win back legacy loyalists? Continue to rattle new, younger demos? Or, is it a mixture of both and a way to merely slow the pace of change?

Neither reign delivered dollars but at least Johnson’s JCP had personality and character. The brand felt alive once again. Although not part of Ullman’s vision, he’d be a fool not to carry the bulk of the new features forward.

The story isn’t over, but this marketing cynic is skeptical we’ll find a happy ending.

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 1 “Ads” – Foolish or Foolproof?

Move over, Black Friday and Super Bowl Sunday. There’s a new favorite in advertising, and it isn’t just about low-low prices, door busters, or the most creative (and expensive) 30-second spot.

April Fool’s is the day advertisers can really lie.

No foolin’.

It’s when we can put marketing of the normal product mix on hold to have a little fun and advertise things that don’t exist at all.

Brought to you by the internet and Social media.

Ten years ago April Fool’s Day ads weren’t even possible (or at least very economical). Traditional channels would prove too narrow and lack spontaneity. Use one of your ├╝ber-expensive TV slots and hope people are tuned in? Post your joke on billboards and wait out a 30-day commitment? No thanks.

The web makes voice amplification easy.
If Scope wants to “announce” a new bacon flavored mouth wash, all they have to do is post a video to their YouTube channel, push it to Facebook and Twitter, and wait for brand advocates to spread the word (see their awesome spot below).

But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

To Fool or not to Fool…
…THAT is the question. Seriously, what value does it serve?

When done correctly, you’d be a fool NOT to do it.

April Fool’s Day ads enhance brand personality and consumer affinity.

It comes in many flavors (including new flavors). But also, changes in policy, new product launches, and product line extensions.

And as a joke, we’re not bound to deliver on the message, so it affords marketers the opportunity to REALLY let loose and get creative.

When to do it: 30k Feet’s Guideline to Foolproof April Fooling

To mock yourself

Google produced several spots, all touting new features or technologies.

Google Nose, Treasure Maps, the Levity Algorithm, and our favorite, Gmail Blue (just like Gmail, only bluer)

All are produced in Google’s signature style. You know, multiple camera angles that deliver heartfelt testimonials by tech designers, all brought to life on a bed of soft, compassionate elevator music that crescendos to a BIG reveal…

“What does a ghost smell like!? Google NOSE!”

Google KNOWS how to poke fun of itself (and we applaud the humility).

Need to see some more self-deprecating ad-humor? Check out
Groupon’s GrMail – electronic madlibs, it's the iDEAL way to use email! :)

To mess with your competitors

Don’t want to get tagged, caught ‘gramming, or hashtagged? Jump in the suit.

’s “Do Not Tracksuit” is supposed to make the wearer completely invisible. It’s also a nod to the software developer’s latest pitch of differentiation against Google when it comes to “respecting” user privacy.

A video would have been a nice way to really get the message out there – but it is Microsoft’s first April Fool’s. Have to learn to walk before you can run.

To soft-pitch legit features

Honda used April Fool’s Day to “launch” HondaHAIR – the first in-car flowbee hair trimming tool. Conveniently enough, the bogus attachment pairs with the totally legit new HondaVAC, available in the upcoming 2014 Odyssey. 

In its final moments, the commercial bounces back to a shot of the vacuum in action on spilled cereal – now isn’t that brilliant? “It sure is!” –kid in the commercial.

When it matches your personality

If you’re a zany, unconventional brand, it fits the bill. That’s Scope; at least that’s who scope wants to be. They’ve gone through a brand revamp in the last year or so – and this spot should be right up their new target demo’s alley.

5 days, nearly 4 million views. How else would Scope get young people talking about mouthwash? And the ad is produced well and feels authentic. Our fave April Fool’s for sure!

When it’s the exact opposite of your personality

The other side of the coin.

Seriously; tired, stuffy brands that are looking to grab attention might find an April Fool’s prank to be just the trick. Let’s say the Quaker Oats man got retooled as a hipster? You’d pay attention, right? You’d respect the company’s attempt at humor and maybe, if they paired the mock-announcement with a soft product launch, you just might pay the brand a visit next time you’re at the grocery.

Snickers Snickettes, Seamless' Deluxe Delivery, Conan State University, and American Eagle’s Skinny-Skinny (spray on) jeans.

did a great job at gathering all the major 2013 April Fool’s ad spots.

Which are your favorites? Which miss the mark? Let us know! >