J.C. Penney has come out with a nervy viral marketing campaign to promote diamond jewelry this Christmas. “Beware of the Doghouse” is the company’s new site; its centerpiece is a four minute video, which can be seen below …
This is the first viral marketing effort of this type JC Penney has done. Quinton Crenshaw, company spokesman, told me: “A lot of us men have been in the doghouse at some point, and much of it is around this concept of gift-giving. So we saw this as a funny way to engage consumers.”
The company has promoted the video on facebook and other interactive sites. While Crenshaw won’t specify the number of hits it’s gotten, he says it’s “exceeded expectations.” He’s particularly amused by the interactive segment, where women can metaphorically punish their man. (For example, one man here is punished because “you snore too much and you smell.”)
The “doghouse” site also links to J.C. Penney’s offerings of diamond jewelry. Crenshaw says some sales have already been made.
Of course, the Penney “message” has its detractors. An advertising blogger on MSNBC is unamused, all but calling the ad sexist. Underneath that post you can see some 200-plus comments debating its pros and cons. There is also a vigorous debate on youtube, where the ad has gotten over 300,000 hits.
“Obviously not everyone has a sense of humor about these things,” Crenshaw says. “When you do viral marketing, you plan for that and you prepare for it. There are some great things that we continue to take in and learn.”
For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the ad. However, most successful viral videos are organic and have a “real” feel to them. This was made by an ad agency and has the slick production values of a commercial – in fact, it could be boiled down to a pretty effective 30-second ad. It was also obviously done to boost sales. It’s not clear if the “Facebook” generation is ready to embrace this type of blatantly commercial effort.
Still, the industry needs to explore things like viral marketing, and the ad works well as an attention getter. “There are a lot of people who are surprised that it was produced by J.C. Penney,” Crenshaw says. “That is a great thing because it shows we are innovative company.”