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How a woman named Thelma changed my views on marketing...and helped me clean up my act.

mrs. meyers soap radish When I was little and we would leave a restaurant, two things would inevitably happen. My dad would pop a red-and-white peppermint in his mouth before we had hit the door, and as soon as we climbed in the car my mom would roll down the window, gasping for fresh air. I always liked the smell of mint so I never understood her aversion, but the day I walked face-first into a friend's vanilla candle-laden home, it all started to make sense. I felt like someone had smeared my nose in a cupcake. And while I love a cupcake just as much as the next girl, I'd rank artificial cupcake scent somewhere between "wet dog" and "dorito feet" on the olfactory offensiveness scale.

Among all the wonderful things I inherited from my mother, it seems  I also inherited her acute sense of smell.

Which is precisely what inspired my first purchase of Mrs. Meyers hand soap. Actually, that's not true. The design drew me in, the scent sold me. I'd like to say "the rest is history" (because that would make for an epically succinct blog post), but it wasn't so. That afternoon, standing in the soap aisle at Target, was just the beginning of a true love story about to unfold.

There aren't a lot of brands I'd profess to love. Even fewer I would say make me feel giddy with joy. Mrs. Meyers is both of those and more. And as someone who so feels enraged over paying $12 for a pack of toilet paper that she has to text her sister to express said anger from the store, pledging allegiance to a $4 bottle of hand soap is kind of a big deal.

Months after becoming a Mrs. Meyers fan, I finally moseyed over to to check out Thelma's website...only to discover a mecca of marketing excellence. (I'm only sort of joking when I say I tiny digital branding and identity angels descended on my screen...)

Beautiful, clean, on-brand site design! Amazing execution of brand storytelling! A tagline that integrates the phrase "like the dickens!"

And that's when the music began. 

Had I found the Holy Grail of  marketing done right?

So here we are. You be the reader, I'll be the writer. And we'll spend the next couple weeks worth of blog posts taking a look at a company that is more than just another pretty smell.

Cupcake huffers need not apply.

CASE STUDY: Kmart "Ship My Pants"

kmart ship my pants I am one of those people who only watches the Super Bowl for the commercials. Perhaps it's a result of my aversion to professional football, but I prefer to think it's inspired by my curiosity about the marketing industry.

I don't throw the word "epic" around very often, but last night I stumbled across what I feel comfortable calling an epic triumph in advertising. A commercial so great, in fact, that I watched it about twelve times...and laughed during each rolling of the tape.

If you haven't seen Kmart's new "Ship my Pants" spot...brace yourself. (Thoughts continue after the leap...)

As one YouTuber put it, "this is a commercial that appeals to the 12-year-old inside of all of us." As the commercial, which has been live for less than two weeks, nears 15 million views, I'd say that's a lot of inner 12-year-olds. Beyond the potty humor, the spot was a genius move for several reasons...

  • It's talkable. Admittedly, it's not exactly high-brow humor, but the spot uses just enough shock factor to strike that sweet spot where amused meets aghast. When this happens, it gets people talking and sharing. In an age where everyone hits the fast forward on the DVR, you've done something right when 15 million people have made an effort to track your spot down so they can share it with their friends and watch it over and over again. 
  • It  targets a new demographic. Traditionally regarded as the retailer of choice for grannies and cat ladies, this spot was a ballsy way to break the schema associated with Kmart. By breaking through the clutter with messaging that is totally out of character, the brand has tapped into the minds (and mouths) of a new, younger demographic. (Or as Dr. Jonah Berger eloquently puts it in his book Contagious, top of mind = tip of tongue.)
  • It launches the brand into a new space. As a bricks-and-mortar store, Kmart has no doubt been impacted by the changing retail landscape. Sure, they have a website, but when it comes to online ordering, it's hard to compete with amazon. At the core, the spot drives home a clear message, flipping the proverbial bird to Amazon and giving their shipping policy a run for its money.

While a tv spot can't save the world, I can't help but wonder if taking a messaging risk can ignite a turnaround for a brand many consider(ed) to be on their way out. I'm curious to see what the future of Kmart's messaging has in store for us. In the meantime, I'll be here giggling away every time that lady enthusiastically whispers, "I just shipped my drawers!"