When Does “Edgy” Marketing Go Over the Edge?

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When Does “Edgy” Marketing Go Over the Edge?

Ship My PantsHave you seen the new “Ship My Pants?” ad campaign from Kmart?

The TV spot is a viral sensation with nearly 16 million YouTube views. It’s been featured on CNN and The Today Show and it’s everywhere on social media.

But just imagine the discussion that took place at Kmart when the company’s ad agency, Draftfcb Chicago, proposed an idea that sounds a lot like what happens when you don’t have time to make it to the bathroom.

When is “edgy” marketing over the edge? Would you have said yes to “ship my pants?”

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to draw the creative line in marketing. Here are 10 tips for your smart marketing strategy.

10 Tips for Drawing the Creative Line in Marketing

Marketing agencies often push clients to consider marketing campaigns that challenge the company’s view of itself.

That’s a good thing. Agencies and marketing strategists are hired to bring creative thinking to branding and messaging.

Great creative can help a company recast its image and be seen in a new, more compelling light. But sometimes, the idea the marketing team is presenting is just too “out there” for the marketer to feel comfortable saying “yes.”

How do you know whether to approve a marketing concept that’s outside your comfort zone? Here are 10 tips for evaluating controversial creative:

1. Take your time. Sometimes you need to get used to a new idea. Give yourself time to think the concept over from every angle. Consider the pros and cons. Anticipate the potential reaction from internal and external audiences.
2. Listen to the agency’s rationale. If your ad agency has done the research to fully understand your marketing challenges, including talking directly with people who buy or consider your products, they should have deep insights into your goals, brand, customers, competitors, market positioning, and messaging. The creative rationale for their edgy idea should reflect this insight.
3. Look at the agency’s track record. If your agency has a history of developing breakthrough creative that gets attention and delivers market share and sales, they know what they’re talking about. Their recommendations deserve your full consideration.
4. Evaluate the emotional impact. What emotions does the campaign idea evoke? Be sure you want the audience to feel these emotions in relation to your brand.
5. Consider the campaign’s deployment in all media. What looks very clever in an ad could sputter out or be completely inappropriate in other media. Ideally, the concept should work across your entire marketing strategy.
6. Test the campaign with focus groups. If you’re unsure how customers and prospects will react to the idea, convene focus groups to ask them.
7. Talk to your salespeople. Preview the concept with a few trusted sales representatives to gauge their response. Will they be excited to talk with customers about this new campaign?
8. Get your boss on board. If you’re going to go out on a creative limb, you need buy-in from the most senior marketing decision-makers in your company.
9. Plan for the market’s (and the media’s) reaction. If your new campaign is likely to provoke a strong response in the market or the media, be prepared to handle any controversy that emerges and capitalize on the campaign’s high visibility.
10. Trust your own judgment. If you think the concept is right on target and a real game-changer, give it the green light – even if others in your company don’t agree. But if your gut tells you it will be a disaster, reject it.

Is “Ship My Pants” a Smart Marketing Strategy?

Many marketing experts have weighed in on the effectiveness and/or grossness of the Kmart campaign. As a marketing consultant, I think the Kmart campaign does three things successfully:

• It gets attention and gets people talking about the brand;
• It’s funny at a silly level that may be just right for Kmart’s customer base;
• It delivers the key message: Kmart offers product shipping services.

What do you think? Will “ship my pants” prove to be a smart marketing strategy for Kmart?

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