Hey Kmart – Meet the Grinch

by AdMavericks on December 21, 2011

By now you’ve heard the news all over Facebook, Twitter, CNN, ABC News, you name it – about “Kmart Angels” paying off people’s layaway orders. Now, I’m just as optimistic as the next guy about the Pay It Forward concept, but you’re telling me that people in multiple states all around the same time decided to pay off some layaway accounts? And all of them at Kmart?

Makes you wonder, are we all suckers to a brilliant marketing campaign?

Let’s say you’re a marketer or in public relations at Kmart. When’s the last time you’ve had some positive PR? The last big PR you received was when Martha Stewart was in jail and you were only mentioned because she has her name on some of the products sold at your store. Let’s also say you’re going to pitch the idea to the company. It goes something like this.

“So here’s an idea. Lets anonymously pay off about ten layaway accounts in multiple areas of the country. We’ll have our employees call the customers to tell them the news, and get this, we’ll do it right before Christmas. Hopefully we’ll get some local news coverage, and it will be a great feel good story. Best case scenario, we inspire others to payoff layaway accounts all over the country. Oh yeah, we’ll probably get a ton of new layaway accounts.”

If I’m hearing the pitch my only concern is being found out. I’d move on this concept immediately and take the chance.

And before you leave some scathing comment about how we took something so wonderful and stole it from Whooville, let’s be clear. Kmart – you’re brilliant. The multiple group of anonymous people who have been inspired to act and pay off other layaway accounts anonymously, we applaud you. You are what makes this country great and provide the spirit of giving that Christmas is all about.

But why is no one else questioning the validity of the inspiration?

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil K. James December 21, 2011 at 9:44 am

Some things are just best left as they are, guys. If it’s a brilliant marketing campaign, then so is Santa Claus, because nothing inspires people to spend money they don’t have to buy crap they don’t need than the man in the red coat.

Just pretend that it’s for real. Like Santa.


Marc December 21, 2011 at 9:53 am

“But why is no one else questioning the validity of the inspiration?”
Because this time of year people believe that miracles happen. Whether or not KMart is pulling a PR stunt is small potatoes compared to the joy brought to those children who will receive their presents on Christmas morning instead of waiting until June when they can be paid off. Merry Christmas KMart, anonymous givers and everyone else that believes in the spirit of this time of year! And ba-hum-bug to you, Mr. Fleming. :o)


Josh Fleming December 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

I think what Kmart has inspired, contrived or not, has created miracles. Like I said, this is brilliant stuff. : )


Justin Brady December 21, 2011 at 10:01 am

Hmmm, never thought about that. Good observation. Will be interesting to see if this ever breaks.


James December 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

I think you bring up a great point Josh, however..lets look at the real issue. The real issue is that this drives consumers (some may not have the $) to purchase things in hopes that someone is going to pay for it. Better yet, some consumers buying things when they know they can’t pay for it.

Prime example: http://www.whotv.com/news/who-lay-away-pay-off-122011,0,7398483.story

She had no idea how she was going to pay for the stuff she had on layaway. Credit is one thing…purchase intent on credit when the consumer can’t pay it back, is the real problem.


Stephanie December 21, 2011 at 10:43 am

As a journalist, the first two comments on this post absolutely floor me. Just let news outlets continue to lie? Unbelievable.


Josh Fleming December 21, 2011 at 10:48 am


I never suggested that the news outlets have lied about this. I am suggesting that they, like many others, “May be suckers to a brilliant marketing campaign.”


Phil K. James December 21, 2011 at 11:24 am

And what I’m suggesting is that some stories are so good, that they should just be left alone. If you’re a journalist, go ahead and do your job.


Marc December 21, 2011 at 11:54 am

As a human being, enjoy your coal.


Vernon Schmidt December 21, 2011 at 11:05 am

I knew something was wrong with the K-mart stories, but now I feel stupid for not seeing the details. Thanks for keeping me on my toes. As I recall, a good deed is true when even your left hand knows not what the right hand has done.


Phil K. James December 21, 2011 at 11:24 am
Megan December 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm

And also, really what’s the harm?
1. Kmart pays off some people’s layaway accounts, and some kids get a nice Christmas. I think we can all agree that’s a good thing.
2. The “marketing stunt” inspires other do-gooders around the country to follow suit. So, even more unfortunate families are treated to a little charity, and the do-gooders get that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with helping someone.
What’s the problem, exactly?


Josh Fleming December 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm

No harm.
1. No argument.
2. I’m down with warm fuzzy feelings (so to speak)
The problem? No problem. Just pointing out that this was a marketing effort that inspired miracles, not miracles that inspired miracles.

Thanks for chiming in! : )


Paul M. December 27, 2011 at 12:48 am

I’m sorry. I missed the part where you provided proof that that last sentence is true.


Josh Fleming December 29, 2011 at 10:25 am

Let me rephrase it for you, Paul.

Just pointing out that this was PROBABLY a marketing effort that inspired miracles, not miracles that inspired miracles.

Thanks for commenting. : )


Monica December 22, 2011 at 1:36 pm

I googled Kmart+marketing+layaway, in hopes that someone had the opinion I did.
I wish I had gone into marketing!


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