Posts Tagged ‘Advertising Age


Kmart’s Holiday Ad: Below the Belt or Missed the Boat?

Thanks to Jordan McNamara for contributing this article to The Side Note.

In a 2012 article, Advertising Age discussed Kmart’s shrinking presence in the low-cost retail field ( Annual sales were down, causing Ad Age to suggest the brand had lost relevance with discount shoppers. In the realm of discount stores, Wal-Mart dominates the low-price segment and Target holds the throne for hip, so where does this leave Kmart?

Over the holidays, Kmart and parent company Sears Holdings Corp. ( made a big jingle in the viral world with the release of the holiday “Show Your Joe” commercial.

Show Your Joe

Following last year’s “Ship My Pants” spot and “Big Gas Savings,” all created by agency DraftFCB, this indicates a major brand shift for the retail chain. Kmart’s Facebook page received many complaints from angry viewers, calling the ad “disgusting and not fit for family consumption” and “inappropriate for kids!!!” ( Many customers also accused Kmart of sacrificing family values and decency in exchange for cheap laughs.
Departure from their traditional ‘baby boomer’ demographic in pursuit of younger shoppers may be exactly Kmart’s intention. According to a Forbes article from last February, Kmart is focusing on improving sales within the 18-34 year old group (

However, Time reported humor is not an effective tactic for converting sales ( Although funny spots succeed at being memorable for consumers, they do not distinguish why the brand is better or what problem the product solves. “Ship my Pants” and “Big Gas Savings” have more than 30 million views combined views on YouTube, but Forbes reported 3rd quarter sales for Kmart were still down (

The Joe Boxer commercial may be the perfect example of funny, but ineffective. With more than 17 million views on YouTube, the ad has unquestionably garnered attention. However, the spot highlights only one product line available in Kmart stores rather than the Kmart brand as a whole. Plus, it lacks differentiation—what about these specific boxers make them so great? Why are they better than others? Why should I shop at Kmart for underwear? The ad does not answer any of these questions to make the brand or product relatable to the consumer. Both earlier ads by DraftFCB mentioned above do speak to benefits Kmart offers its customers, but the most effective ads connect with consumers on a deeper, emotional level.

Due to holiday shopping, fourth quarter sales can account for as much as 40 percent of annual sales for retailers ( With that in mind, Kmart needed a stellar season to climb out of the hole after six years of continually declining sales ( Numbers for 2013’s fourth quarter have not been released yet, but if third quarter sales are any indication, this ad will not be enough to sway shoppers away from other discount stores.

Kmart may have some big…er, bells, but that might not have been enough to fulfill this retailer’s Christmas wishes.

Do you shop at Kmart? Tell us what you think of the Joe Boxer ad here. Is your brand in need of an overhaul? The Weise team can identify problem areas and create a strategy to give your brand a boost in our Navigator session. Contact us. 


Major Corporations Not Advertising Healthy Options…To Protect The Unhealthy Ones?

A recent article in Advertising Age explained that some major food production companies are doing away with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as their main sweetener ingredient and replacing it with good old plain sugar. The switch to sugar is limited to certain products. I am no doctor or dietitian or nutritionist, but I have taken enough health, wellness and work out classes to know that high fructose corn syrup is unhealthy for two reasons – it’s sugar and it’s processed. And worse yet, it comes in virtually everything you buy that is packaged in the grocery store.

I also know that people are fed up with it. Which is why the switch is being made back to sugar. As HFCS became a cheap and easy way to add “flavor” to pre-packaged foods, obesity rates quickly began to climb. The statistics vary, but a variety of research says that the average American annually consumes upwards of 54 pounds of sugar, just in soda. Total annual sugar consumption for Americans is between 100-120 pounds, each. Yikes! You think you are not one of those people? Check out the foods you normally buy in the grocery store, many have HFCS included as a top ingredient – bread, yogurt, pasta, salad dressing, ketchup, pickles… the list goes on and on.

So why would a major food producer like Hunts Ketchup or Wheat Thins NOT do a major marketing splash when they eliminate HFCS from their foods? It’s not because of the lingering recession; it’s because of the unwillingness to take business away from their other brands that still carry the HFCS. (My guess is that non-HFCS products will be more expensive to purchase.)

According to the same article, Pepsi and Mountain Dew are marketing their products that have switched from HFCS to sugar – but these changes are for a limited time only. So they are making and marketing a short-term change to sugar, not a long-term one. See the Mountain Dew Commercial here:

I have issues on so many levels with all of this information (don’t get me started about why sugar is added to my bread or spaghetti sauce.), but my major concern is that the brands don’t want to advertise that they are switching from HFCS to regular sugar because they don’t want to hurt their HFCS brands, or confuse the consumers that don’t understand the issues with HFCS. Wouldn’t we all be better off if they did shout the change from the mountain top? Shouldn’t they be proud of this switch? Or are they just trying to defer the spotlight from how much sugar (sweetener, HFCS, whatever…) are in their products to begin with?

To make matters worse, we still have the Corn Refiners Association running a major advertising campaign stating that there is no difference between HFCS and sugar. The implication being that either are fine for you. You can see one of their commercials here:

OK – I’ll give them that added sweetener is still just that – added sweet. But HFCS is still processed, and our bodies react differently to it than to sugar. And I firmly believe that when a switch is made to a healthier ingredient, we should celebrate this, not hide it.

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