Kmart Goes Back to School

“What up y’all, it’s dem kids again” is the intro to the newest Kmart back to school commercial. The commercial, which is in the form of a music video, is being called racist by it’s viewers and is causing a stir among consumers.  The ad features a young hip hop group called “Da Rich Kidzz” who rap about the newest back to school trends.  Kmart’s attempt to appeal to the popularity of today’s hip hop culture has actually done the opposite of what their marketing strategy intended to do.

The design of the commercial targeted a small demographic, causing their brand image to be misconstrued.  With the majority of the children in the video mimicking stereotypical rap video dancing and using incorrect grammar, it is easy to see how the message of the commercial could be misinterpreted.  Although it is safe to assume Kmart did not intentionally create the advertisement to bring negative light upon themselves, they are now faced with rebranding and reevaluating their marketing strategy.

With all of the current back to school advertisements out at this time of year, it makes us wonder why Kmart chose to go this route with this campaign. With lyrics containing slang and grammatical errors such as “dem” and “can’t no one pass,” Kmart made the attempt to draw in the youth who listen to hip hop. Instead of making themselves stand out in a youthful way among the traditional back to school commercials, they further narrowed their consumer base.

According to an article on Business Insider, Kmart’s brand has been suffering for the past six years.  After viewing the advertisement, would you be inclined to shop at Kmart for back to school items? Could this be Kmart’s last attempt to gain back a significant customer base? Seeing as how they have not made a public statement in response to the racial backlash, it will be interesting to see whether or not this campaign will pay off for Kmart.  To have a successful marketing campaign strategy, a business must always be able to recognize who their publics are.  They must also know that by alienating a certain demographic they have to expect that there will be positive and negative effects.

When all is said and done, Kmart was successful in being memorable.  However, will their sales, in turn, reflect in a positive way?

-Aaron Love, Kara Zimmerman, Rachel Clay, Rebecca Hobbs

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5 thoughts on “Kmart Goes Back to School

  1. Great artifact to examine and quite complicated. Why is it controversial? The various characteristics of the ad are consistent with the genre that is quite popular. The vocabulary/grammar is consistent with the genre. So the controversy reveals something else. Perhaps it is the discrepency between the “rap” lifestyle and back to school supplies is too jarring. Perhaps it too clearly reveals issues we don’t want to talk about. I also think the “stereotype” claim comes from the understood author of the video. Had this ad emerged from a contest, would the controversy be the same? A “close read” of the ad content is also revealing. The students are often in the BACK of the bus. They are walking the streeets, never actually in the classroom studying or interacting with the teachers–even in some B-roll. They are not, by an visual evidence “good students” and that lends to the prblems in the video. Now we see why IMC covers both advertising adn crissi communication!

  2. This might be a case of “no press is bad press.” I don’t think anyone would have remembered this ad if it wasn’t controversial. Especially since this time of year there are a hundred similar ads, from a hundred similar stores, plugging all the same products. And honestly, this controversy may be intended since Kmart has done this sort of thing before to good effect. Case in point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I03UmJbK0lA

  3. The first time I saw this commercial on TV over the summer, I was shocked at Kmart’s choice in marketing their back to school apparel in such a manner. I can understand the intentions of reaching the younger demographic through a “trendy” hip-hop/rap music video featuring young children praising the coolness of the Kmart brand. However, intentions and perceptions are two very different concepts. Instantly my perception was that Kmart was trying to be edgy and push the boundaries, again. Similar to Kmart’s ‘Ship My Pants ‘commercial from earlier this summer, I was turned off by this music video fiasco. Many people view Kmart in a negative light as it is. I caught myself identifying the irony of the situation that was presented. I found it ironic that a group of kids were rapping about how they got all their back to school clothing and accessories from Kmart and that it was making them the “cool kids on the bus” so to speak. One friend I talked to called Kmart the “Ghetto Target.” That was their opinion not might to set the record straight. However, the ‘Ship My Pants’ ad wasn’t a good model for younger children or many of the parents who saw that ad. I can only imagine what the response to this new Kmart advertisement will be.
    In addition to this humorous situation; at least based on my perception, growing up and living by the beach all my life- the cool kids always sport the newest surf and skate brand apparel. Looking at the video, I noticed that there wasn’t a single Caucasian kid in the singing group; there is the random “white girl.” She is the only person in the music video who isn’t of color and who isn’t singing or really dancing. It portrays Kmart as a brand that may attract only that one demographic of people. This was not a smart marketing technique. Kmart needs to broaden their customer base, so their advertisements should portray a message that can be seen and understood by people of different gender, ages, skin colors, and lifestyles.

  4. I can’t really see why people are getting so wound up by this advertisement. Sure it could use a little more diversity and the grammar in which the lyrics are being presented can use a few touches but in my opinion it still has that “kid innocence” feel to it. Obviously Kmart should of paid more attention to what they were doing and got more feed back before they released this. They then would of found out that with a few more adjustments this could of been a cute Ad that didn’t receive much scrutiny.

  5. I applaud K-mart’s effort for trying to switch up how they portray their brand and agree that something needed to be changed, but this was not the way to do it. It honestly appalled me. The fact that all of the children in this video are African American is the first thing that catches my attention. I don’t think this ad is acceptable whatsoever and I can see why it caused controversy. They could have went about this in a lighter way through a rap video that contained not only African Americans, gold chains, and money. They should have made it a little more classier and colorful.

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