Kmart has reinvented the Blue Light Special and it’s… well, a bit blue. Perhaps too blue for traditional television and that’s part of the unique strategy.
The original discount department store has pulled a little sophomoric potty humor out of isle ten in hopes of gaining more attention in a retail marketplace dominated by Walmart, Target and Amazon.
DraftFCB in Chicago has produced a brilliantly off-color and humorous message promoting Kmart’s ability to “ship my pants,” or anything else from kmart.com for free.
The message is very strategic. Kmart is simply trying to regain lost customers by using humor to remind them that they don’t have to go to Amazon or Walmart to shop online. (Figure 1)
The unique part of the strategy is to avoid television, and go directly to social media where edgy messaging can exceed the more sanitized boundaries of broadcast television. It’s a messaging strategy more agencies and brands are exploiting in a multi-digital channel viral world. In Kmart’s case, it was a brilliant success. In the first 48-hours, “Ship my Pants” received more than two million YouTube views.
Kmart is far from alone. NJOY smokeless cigarettes also just scored a viral hit with Courtney Love dropping the f-bomb in an internet-only commercial that says bad girls can still be bad.
Several years ago, Ford didn’t have to say a word while promoting a sport version of its successful European compact car named Ka. It targeted young urban men with an edgy internet video, the likes of which could never air in the United States.
Sometimes the strategy is not about being edgy, it’s about entertainment. Turkish Airlines just achieved viral video gold with a commercial featuring two of the world’s best known athletes competing for the attention of a young fan. The video was such a huge success that the airline created its own infographic explaining how it worked. (See below)
Central to the strategy in all of these campaigns is the sharable functionality of social media. Brand loyalists, followers, and viewers of these commercials who like and share the message among friends are in many respects more valuable than an expensive spot on prime time television. In Kmart’s case, the strategy creates some opportunistic buzz for the brand at a time when JC Penney is hemorrhaging customers and every other discount retailer is still fighting for market share in the economic recovery.
Kmart and DraftFCB prove that creativity is still alive and well and fun… if not a little naughty.
[Note: To keep up with more great video commercials, follow advertising savant John Eighmey]