In December, a video began making the rounds on YouTube. Called The Doghouse, it was sponsored by JC Penney’s jewelry department and humorously described what happens to men who give inappropriate gifts to their female partners on significant holidays.
Not to belabor the point, but unless she explicitly asked for a vacuum cleaner, not such a good idea.
The JC Penney branding was subtle. Almost too subtle, said my friend Julia Tanen.
That didn’t worry me so much, as I suspected JCP would use a multi-prong approach to promote the campaign. The day I first learned of the campaign in December in fact, JCP started following me on Twitter, and just before the holidays, one of their PR firms reached out to me about participating in a contest promotion for the Doghouse campaign and site. More about that in a minute.
Women will identify with this promotion. We are always getting gifts from our spouses that aren’t “quite right.” Perhaps not as bad as an appliance, but there’s a reason why women like to get jewelry. In my personal experience, it has relatively little to do with avarice and quite a lot to do with not having to stand in line to return stuff that is the wrong size or style.
However, I’m not crazy about the website. It seems a bit confused and not up to the standard set by the video. It’s pretty clear how people get into the doghouse, and the message about how to get out is clear – buy diamonds. But how do people who are submitted by their friends get released? Is it real, or just some sort of random thing? I’d like a bit more explanation.
That said, I applaud the company for trying something different and creating a funny video that speaks to the real problem — the difficulty men often have in buying gifts for their partners — and not just to their product. This is thinking at the intersection of mutual interest, not simply product promotion.
Now, back to the outreach from one of Penney’s agencies. They reached out to me with an offer for a gift card that I could award in a reader contest. Now, I don’t do contests here on Marketing Roadmaps. In fact, there is no advertising here and I rarely review products. However, I do have a personal blog where I do both, and the PR rep was fine if I ran the contest over at Snapshot Chronicles. I also told her I intended to do a brief analysis on the campaign here.
Which brings me back to one of the themes I raised in my New Year’s post – credibility and ethics. I have a clear policy for both my blogs. Marketing Roadmaps is about marketing and critical analysis and accepts no advertising. Snapshot Chronicles is a personal blog and runs ads from BlogHer, Google and Amazon.
What I’ve said here on Marketing Roadmaps about this campaign was not influenced by the blogger outreach. I formed an opinion about the Doghouse campaign when I first saw it and my opinion hasn’t changed. It was a good effort, a funny video and a so-so website. So, I couldn’t see any reason to not accept the offer of the gift card for a contest for my Snapshot Chronicles readers. Times are tough and every little bit helps.
But I wonder — would the critics who lambasted Chris Brogan about the Kmart campaign criticize me in the same way? Granted, I get no personal benefit, other than the continued relationship with the PR rep who reached out to me, but still, I will be writing a post over at Snapshot Chronicles that encourages people to promote the JCP campaign. Even though I was critical of it here.
I think it’s fine. Or I wouldn’t do it.
What do you think?
PS – Go to Snapshot Chronicles for info on how to enter the contest for the $100 JC Penney gift card.