The marketing executive who created Kmart’s “I Found Love At A Kmart Store” jingle several years back said on Friday that the Big Red K’s newest offering – a group of male models clad in Joe Boxer underwear jiggling their junk to the tune of “Jingle Bells” – is a “low-blow” to the retailer and its consumers.
Jay Schorr, president of Hollywood, Florida-based TMR Multimedia who created Kmart’s ‘Love’ advertising campaign that featured a jingle the Detroit Free Press called one of the “most memorable” in contemporary history, said he’s got a sense of humor as “good as anyone’s,” but that “orchestrating dangling scrotums” is hitting below the belt of good taste.
“Shock value has its place, but the ‘Balls’ ad really is purposed for nothing but making a splash in the most prurient way,” said Schorr. “What is the message the retailer is going for? Joe Boxers give you lots of ball room? What about the quality of the underwear? Its value and brand message?”
Schorr said he’ll admit the ad got a lot of people talking, which, he also concedes, is the purpose of most advertising campaigns. But commercials are much more than vehicles to shock and spur controversy, he said. First and foremost, Schorr proffered, ads are calls to action.
“The bottom line of advertising is to issue a compelling call to action; to motivate consumers to buy the product,” said an ebullient Schorr. “What’s the call to action in the ‘Balls’ spot? Guys, get up and swing your scrotums until you belt out ‘Smoke On the Water?'”
David Leone, a Tamarac, Florida-based advertising industry analyst agrees with Schorr and says that Kmart’s ‘Balls’ ad was funny, but not necessarily effective in generating sales.
“If ads were solely an entertainment vehicle the ‘Balls’ ad would be great,” said Leone. “But there’s a more important retail consideration: Sales.”
In addition to his ‘Love’ campaign, Schorr created “Honeymoon At Kmart,” a reality show in which five newly married couples from diverse backgrounds are locked in a Kmart for two weeks and subjected to contests and other survival ordeals while competing for a huge monetary grand prize. A sort of retail “Lord of the Flies.”
Schorr said he pitched the concept to Kmart’s Chief Marketing Officer, Andrew Stein, but has not heard back from him.
“I guess Andrew’s too busy reveling in the musical euphoria of the ‘Balls’ ad,” Schorr said. “But when the genital pendulum stops swinging, there could be a real sour note in terms of disappointing sales numbers … regardless what Kmart will report.”
Calls to Kmart for comment went unanswered.
"In the advertising industry, having a big pair of balls - in other words, the willingness to chances - is a prerequisite to success," said Leone. "But I think you need to use the balls factor judiciously."
If consumers are having a hard time sorting out the ad message from the fluff, perhaps they should follow Leone's sage advice.
"Just follow the bouncing ball," said a self-amused Leone.