JCPenney creates viral sensation with Super Bowl stunt

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by JASON WHEELER

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwheelertv

WFAA

Posted on February 3, 2014 at 7:28 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 3 at 8:00 PM

After a less than super year, Plano-based JCPenney had a game plan going into Super Bowl Sunday.

Rather than spending big league money to advertise, the beleaguered department store chain opted to try to steal the spotlight by live-tweeting the football game with misspellings aplenty, like "toughdown Seadwaks."

Twitter exploded, with some users wondering, "is JCPenney drunk?"

Penney later explained they had been tweeting while wearing Olympic mittens (which they're selling, by the way).

JCP said the "fun stunt ... was a great success," netting more than "10,000 followers last night" as well as 130,000 thousand mentions, including this one: "JCPenney paid $0 for two fake drunk tweets and now have more mentions than a $3 million commercial."

But some say the #TweetingWithMittens campaign comes with a serious hangover.

Todd Wasserman of mashable.com explains: "They did get a lot of attention and re-tweets, but what is debatable is whether it was good for the brand, and I don’t think it was personally," he said.

Wasserman added that the tweets made it look like the retailer’s account had been hacked, and that — in light of recent security breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus — is a less than sound strategy.

"Does this make JCPenney more trustworthy? Some place you want to spend your money? I don’t think so," Wasserman said.

Additionally, Wasserman said considering Penney's recent layoffs, store closures, and well-publicized struggle for survival, the misspellings were a big misstep.

"It just seemed like a naked bid for attention that whatever they got out of it in terms of new followers doesn't really help with what they are trying to do in turning around the company," he said.

But other analysts say with just a few short messages, JCPenney was able to start a viral conversation that was the envy of other brands — some of which spent millions of dollars more and hardly got a mention.

At the end of the day, some Twitter traffic-watchers say Penney clearly won the day. JCPenney continued getting mileage out of the stunt Monday, continuing to react to all the reaction on Twitter with more whimsical posts.

E-mail jwheeler@wfaa.com

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