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.


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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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 so we can stay connected.