Is K-Mart’s “Ship My Pants” a good Ad?

I have to confess, it’s a very cute ad.  It makes me giggle every time.  I’ve shown it to my teenage kids, I’ve posted it on Facebook and Twitter.  And I’ve watched it again and giggled more.  But is it a good ad?   And I guess the bigger question might be is it the right ad for K-Mart?

Here’s the ad:

Is it a Good Ad?

The test of a good ad that I use is the ABC’S of Advertising which is Attention, Branding Communication and Stickiness.  

  • Attention:  A+  This ad definitely captures attention with a high degree of humor.  It’s as funny as a Seinfeld episode.  And for those of us, like me, it has that sharing power set up perfectly for social media.
  • Branding:  C+  The ad doesn’t do that great of a job with the brand.  And right now, K-Mart is definitely at the Indifferent stage of the Brand Love Curve, so what it really needs is to help separate the brand from the pack.  Other than scoring for “this brand is funny”, this doesn’t really separate K-Mart out from the pack?   I’d likely give this a higher score if the brand was targeted to a younger audience or if it was in an edgier category, the joke would have been a perfect fit for (e.g.  EB Games or West 49)
  • Communication:  B+   If K-Mart’s only objective is to establish that it does shipping, then it would be A+, but because of the vast needs for the brand, I’m a bit surprised they can turn K-Mart around by offering free shipping.  This does nothing to separate the brand:  LL Bean can ship pants, but LL Bean has pants I want shipped.   The other weird part of the communication is that 90% of the visuals are IN the store yet the real big win is there’s an on-line play.  If it’s IN the store, most items in a mass merchandiser store are so small that you don’t need them shipped.   So I’m saying mixed.
  • Stickiness:  A  It certainly sticks and the amount of sharing and talk value it has generate helps. It may be polarizing to certain segments of the mass audience–some may be offended–so it may stick for the wrong reason with the wrong circumstances.

So overall, I’d rate the ad a solid B+ to A=.  Very funny Ad.  

But, is it the right Ad for K-Mart?

Let’s look at the K-Mart strategy through the lens of the 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers including the brand promise, the strategic choices you make, the brand’s ability to tell their story, the freshness of the product or service and the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.

Slide1

Brand Promise: The promise as stated is you can now get all the great stuff at K-Mart shipped right to your house.  Who is the target?   Based on the tone of the ad, you would think it’s such a younger audience, but does a younger audience shop at K-Mart.  I know there will be people say “well with this funny ad, maybe now kids will shop there?”   Really?   Is that how you think advertising works?  

Strategy:  I’m not quite getting the strategy here.  K-Mart is nearly bankrupt and has not had a true reason for being for  the last 40 years.  Brands are either different, better or cheaper.   Wal-Mart beats it on price, Target beats it on style.  

Story:  The is trying to deliver the brand promise, but the tone feels wrong.  As Ted Mathews, author of Brand: It Ain’t the Logo* (*It’s what people think of you.) said “The K-Mart ad is completely off-brand character.  It will alienate the last remaining 50+ customers they have.  This is what happens without a Brand Foundation.  

Innovation:  This is 2013.  E-Commerce isn’t really innovative is it?  The idea that I can order pants on-line and have them shipped to my house might have been innovative around 1997.   But nowadays, buying pants on-line doesn’t exactly say “Hey Everyone K-Mart is really innovative”.  

Experience:  If there was a brand death pool, K-Mart would be near the top of the list.  Every time I drive by one, only then am I reminded that they still exist.  And then I say “why?”.  As I watched this ad, my first reaction was “yeah, but they are still crappy pants that no one wants”.  It reminds me of the Woody Allen joke:  “this steak is awful and the portions are so small”.  Yes I can ship the pants, but quite frankly, I don’t want the pants.  

Using these 5 Connections, I would say that, other than a funny gag, the ad does nothing to connect consumers with the K-Mart Brand. 

Ship My Pants: Good Ad, Wrong Brand

 

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  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

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About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.

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Graham is the voice of the modern Brand Leader. He started Beloved Brands, knowing he could “Make Brands better and Brand Leaders better™”. His Beloved Brands blog has 2 million views, and his public speaking appearances inspire Brand Leaders to love what they do. The idea behind Beloved Brands is the more love you can generate with your consumers, the more power you have in the market which drives higher growth and profits for your brand. As a brand coach, Graham helps to find growth where others couldn’t, creating Brand ideas consumers love and Brand Plans everyone can follow. For Brand Leaders wanting to reach their full potential The Brand Leadership Center offers workshops on strategic thinking, analytics, planning, positioning, creative briefs, judging advertising and media. Graham spent 20 years leading some of the world’s most beloved brands at Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, General Mills and Coke, rising through the ranks up to VP Marketing. Graham played a major role in helping Pfizer win Marketing Magazine’s Marketer of the Year award. Beloved Brands has a robust Client list that includes NFL Players Inc, NFLPA, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, Earls Kitchen + Bar, 3M, 649 Lottery, Sunlight, Carlsberg, Slimquick, Red Racer, Shagri-la Hotel, Canada’s Wildlife Health and Fluke.

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One thought on “Is K-Mart’s “Ship My Pants” a good Ad?
  1. Mahdad

    I agree with your rating and would probably give it a B- looking at it from a branding point of view. From an advertising point of it is catchy and funny but tasteless and leaves a bad visual idea in the consumers mind.

    I think it is on brand only because Kmart has a reputation as a low cost/low quality retailer, and so “shitting my pants” seems like something I would do because I don’t care about the pants. “Shipping my pants” though, the real message is also too specific a message. I’m now thinking about pants, but what about shipping other things? It’s too targeted I feel unless it was really well delivered to an audience Kmart knew was looking for pants. Instead I’m left with a tasteless thought of shitting in my Kmart pants. Thanks Kmart but I’ll pass on the crap.

     
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