In any creative endeavor, there is always potential for a concept to go over the edge. “Funny” can turn into mean the same way “avant garde” can become just plain weird. The line between funny and not is one that artists have been tip-toeing on for years. Kmart’s creative team seems to have found the exact dead center of funny when they came up with the “Ship My Pants” and “Big Gas Savings” TV commercials. On May 24, 2013, Time Magazine’s Business and Money online reported that Ship My Pants was viewed on YouTube 17 million times; Big Gas Savings has already surpassed that.
Whenever something gets the attention of this many people, there is usually at least a seed’s worth of controversy soon to follow, but in this case, the commercials have been relatively well received. There are some complaints from an online conservative group, OneMillionMoms.com, but a glimpse at their website reveals a virtual who’s who list of entertaining commercials, so a creative team that finds itself on this “naughty” list might actually take it as a compliment.
For the most part, people seem to enjoy the spots and they are telling their friends to watch them online. It’s unclear whether the commercials will generate as many sales as they did laughs, but they do introduce two new focuses for the aging retail giant. In the meantime, people are certainly paying attention. We never would have associated Kmart with shipping anything anywhere or a resource for discount gas prices and because they made us laugh, we’re willing to give them a try. This is one campaign that was funny enough to bend, but not to break.