Too often marketers focus on getting attention. We have all seen the super bowl adds, and who doesn’t enjoy watching them. But are they really getting the attention that counts? Are they attracting new followers?
Seth Godin said recently in his blog that “viral marketing is an idea that spreads–and an idea that while it is spreading actually helps market your business or cause.” It is not really successful marketing when it gains popularity by being cute, clever or funny alone. Here is an example. I recently watched the now famous “dog house campaign video” from JCPenneys. It is funny, well scripted and shot. But what story are they trying to tell? Maybe it did increase their sales. JCPenny reported that December store sales only decreased 6.8 percent as reported by their corporate office. They attribute the companies better sales during the holidays compared to their competitors, to “aggressive promotional pricing action”. There is no mention of the million and counting hits the doghouse video has received on YouTube. Even though the approach is different from the disruptive television or print ads so commonly used by large retail stores, it still shows that JCPenny is missing the mark on viral marketing. I believe they have a remarkable brand that does not need gimmicks like Facebook Connect applications (an application that allows women to put their male friends in the doghouse for poorly chosen gifts for their women). For years I have heard about their customer service and quality guarantee. I once bought a Citizen diving watch from their jewelry department. For a decade I was able to return to the department and have the batteries replaced by Citizen while the shipping was covered by JCPenneys. It was enough to make me consider them whenever I thought about major purchases. While my mother worked as a floor salesperson she prided herself on that kind of customer service. These qualities alone are enough to create honest and transparent marketing for the company. I can think of many promotional pieces they could have spent money on instead of a video that will be remembered for ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi’s cleverness (don’t get me wrong here, they delivered an excellent conventional advertisement for the company). Obviously it made the masses laugh, but did it move them to make a choice for JCPenny?
To be entertained go here. JCPenney spent incredible amounts of money to make it, and you get to see it for…. free.