Kmart produced a hilarious social media campaign in hopes of increasing awareness of its “Ship to Home” service, which allows shoppers to have any item not found in the store shipped to their house for free.  The TV commercial amusingly reveals how simple the shipping process is, from shipping your drawers, your bed, or even shipping your pants.  The commercial starts out with a customer talking with a Kmart employee; the customer asks in disbelief, “Ship my pants, right here? Ship my pants you’re kidding!” Several other Kmart shoppers chime in and share the excitement and joy of shipping all types of Kmart products.  “I just shipped my bed!” “I just shipped my pants and it was very convenient.”

If you haven’t caught on to it yet, the comedy in this video is the play-on-words with “shipped,” which sounds a lot like…well, something else.  Most viewers will do a double-take as they first listen to this clever commercial.  I know I had to! I had to watched this ad twice when I first saw it.  It had me laughing hysterically, and made me want to share it on my Facebook page… which is exactly what I, and thousands of others, did.

shipmypantskiddingWithin two weeks, the YouTube video of the ad accumulated 15 million views and 73,000 likes.  According to Time Magazine, Kmart wasn’t trying to make a record-breaking social media campaign.  According to Andrew Stein, Kmart’s vice president and chief marketing officer, “The company wasn’t trying to make a viral ad.  The goal was to just create a funny, compelling commercial that promoted the service.”  Despite what Kmart’s initial intentions were, the ad received a lot of positive feedback from its Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts. One Twitter user said, “Kmart’s ‘Ship My Pants’ Commercial.  Literally the best commercial ever.”  Another success-proving tweet said, “omg I may never buy pants at kmart but this commercial makes me want to.”  And from Facebook the positivity continued, “This ad is hysterical! I’m giving KMart all my business now! That was some funny ship!!!”  A commenter on YouTube also was happy with the video, writing, “Hahaha I LOVED this ad when I first saw it!  Pushes the boundaries and clever!”

oldshipmypantsWhile there was a lot of positive feedback on social media, it is important to mention there were also those who didn’t agree with the “potty-humored” commercial.  A Facebook user who disapproved of the commercial posted, “Not impressed with the potty humor.”  Another disagreeing Facebook user said, “Bad taste. When you have to resort to this kind of tactic to sell product then maybe you need to fall by the wayside. Somethings wrong here.”  In attempts to keep the peace Kmart reached out apologetically, saying, “We hear you. It’s a tongue-in-cheek take on an innovative service offering: order in store & ship it home. We’re sorry if it appeared insensitive.”  Although the Kmart commercial raised some disagreement between being offensive and being amusing, the ad was extremely successful.  Let’s talk about why it worked.

  1. Garnered Attention Through Social Media – According to Viral Video Chart the ad has received more than 3 million Facebook shares, approximately 55 thousand Twitter shares, and had nearly 400 blog posts written about it.  If Kmart had a small social media presence in the past, is certainly has made itself present with this ad.
  2. Increased Awareness – The original goal of this ad was to increase awareness to Kmart shoppers of its available services, and this is exactly what happened.  Whether Kmart followers were happy or upset by the ad, the message that shoppers could use the “Ship to Home” service was acknowledged.  According to a USA Today article, “Millions of potential shoppers now know that it offers free shipping for members of its ‘Shop Your Way’ program when the product they want isn’t in the store.”
  3. Connected via Human Emotion – We likely don’t always remember everything people say to us, what we read or what we hear.  What we usually always remember is how something made us feel.  Humor is a great way to connect with an audience, and Kmart proved this successfully by connecting to a wide range of its audience.  On the flip side, even those who disagreed with the ad will likely still remember it because of the emotional connection they had.
  4. Took a Risk – An article on the topic in Time Magazine says “Let’s be honest: Kmart isn’t cool…If you associate the Kmart brand with anything these days, it’s a kind of Martha Stewart-flavored aspirational respectability, or perhaps layaway, or bankruptcy court.”  With this ad it reached a younger audience, which is different from its usual target audience, and proved to be successful.  It was a risk for Kmart to go outside of its regular target audiences’ “comfort zone,” but proved that continuing to reach out to a large and changing demographic requires a change in marketing strategy.

Kmart demonstrated a bold move in social media marketing, it changed its approach in advertising content, and did something it was not sure would go over well.  Social media marketing is sometimes a gamble; one can’t be quite sure what folks will “Like” and tweet about, or what will make them really “ship” their pants.

Make sure to come back next week and see how the Water is Life campaign pulls on the heart strings of Twitter users, and what you can learn from it.

Stay tuned…