Putting More Blue in the Blue Light Special

Kmart has never been a brand to stand for class and sophistication, so perhaps it’s really little surprise their new campaign aims for the scatological shopper Shipping Their Pants and the sophomoric snickers of Big Gas Savings. These aren’t just mind-numbing yucks from the Will Farrell – Jonah Hill school of “it was funny when we were 10, why wouldn’t it be funny now?”. These are bad advertising at its fundamental worst, with a hat tip to the fine folks at Sofa King.
Is it bad because it’s cheap laughs and bathroom humor? No, not completely. The biggest problem is it doesn’t sell. That’s the first thing an ad needs to do. I’ve only seen the Ship My Pants ad run once – but I’ve seen it linked to online, posted on Facebook and referenced dozens of times. As viral marketing goes – it’s getting terrific views. Plenty of people are talking about shipping their pants. But is anybody talking about going to Kmart?
This is the problem with using blue humor in an ad – it generates lots of commentary, but unless you do it right, unless you balance the gag with the brand, you are simply running a dirty joke.Entertainment is great, if you’re Warner Brothers. If you are Kmart trying to promote the fact that you have free shipping from your online store? Not so much. Same with Big Gas Savings – This feels like a gag looking for a reason to happen – I’ve never seen a Kmart with a gas station. But then I rarely shop at Kmart and with ads like these, I doubt that’ll change anytime soon.

To me, the sad thing is these could have worked. The gag is in the phrase, not the constant repetition that happens in the spot. The agency could have made the point, gotten the gag through, and easily tied it to the brand, the fact that Kmart has free shipping or Kmart sells gasoline at a discount to their loyalty club members. It actually would have been simple. And blowing that is the reason these are bad ads, not because they are blue light specials.

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