Wait 'til the Ship Hits the Familiar

A new commercial for Kmart gets high marks for low humor but proves something to me about the value of online video to a marketer. It is this: Even a brand with nothing much to say can make a statement in an online video that will attract outsized attention.

Good for Kmart and DraftFCB which created the “Ship My Pants” commercial for the discount retailer that, has zoomed to the top of the Ad Age Viral Video Chart, because it is has had almost 12 million views since April 10. That’s pretty great for a retailer that has not made much noise, in a good way, since before Derek Jeter began playing for the Yankees. If then.

It may not be every day that a trade magazine lauds a commercial for being sophomoric, as AdAge,com did, but you can’t quibble with the description, unless, maybe you are Mr. I.P. Daily and believe you are being ignored. “Ship My Pants” is all about how at Kmart, you can ship you things they don’t have in stock, for free.  A dad, informed by a clerk he can ship his pants, is amazed and tells the wife, the kids, passersby, all of whom testify how good it will feel to “ship my pants.”  This is so stupid.  



(If you are missing this somehow, say “ship my pants” quickly and it will sound like something else. That is the definition of sophomoric. Eighth-gradic humor, I can tell you for a fact, is quickly naming the pronouns for a male person, a female person and an inanimate object, preferably in front of a nun. Wild fun.)

The ad has gotten such notoriety that Kmart is now ordering a flight of ads on some cable networks, but the bigger point to me is that except for Super Bowl commercials, very few commercials debuting on TV ever go viral at all, or in a week, like this one.

That is still the excitement value of online video advertising, which like online video, is a place for content that colors outside the lines. That’s why, it seems to me, it’s a perfect place to advertise new edgy products, or advertise old, stodgy brands in a faux-newsy new way (“Ship My Pants”). That won't always be true. Five, or four or three years from now, or maybe sooner, I will be so bored. Ooh, edgy commercial. What a novelty. Now it still is worth sharing.

I was nearly done thinking about shipping my pants when I got a look at Vizu’s 2013 Online Advertising Performance Outlook, which declares that this is the year of brand advertising.  It says marketers plan to increase their spend on pushing brands on all the platforms, particularly mobile and tablet. And we’re talking big increases.  About 20%  of the respondents say their budget outlays will increase 20% , and as TechCrunch points out, 61% say they’ll be taking money from direct response to add to branding efforts online. It’s not enough to make me ship my pants. But I might yet go order a pair, and ask them to ship them off. To Bill Melater.

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