If you’ve got a struggling department store brand that’s trying to overcome the too-slick image of previous management, might we suggest using your social media presence to send seemingly-drunk tweets during the most-watched television event of the year? That’s what J.C. Penney did last night, in a move that netted them some extra attention as it offered commentary on the dull game:
J.C. Penney’s tweeter turned out to be correct on the outcome, but it wasn’t the foresight that caught the Internet’s attention. The company’s normally sleepy Twitter account saw those messages retweeted over 40,000 times as the Internet, which loves a public meltdown, even one that involves a corporation’s social media intern forgetting to log out of the account. And, lo, at first, Twitter was on meltdown-watch, and other companies—sensing, perhaps, the opportunity to have an Oreo/blackout moment, used the the retailer’s illegible tweets to promote their own brands:
If the game had been more compelling, perhaps J.C. Penney’s tweets wouldn’t have received so much attention. But in addition to the “go home, JC Penney, you’re drunk” tweets that were widely circulated, and the debate over whether or not the company was in the midst of a weird viral marketing attempt, others expressed genuine compassion for the health and safety of the person responsible for the tweets:
Ultimately, it turns out, they needn’t have bothered: Half an hour later, J.C. Penney tweeted that it was, in fact, all a ploy for some attention. (Which netted them an extra 25,000 followers on Twitter—the sort of metric that seems like it would have mattered more in the Ron Johnson era.) In fact, the company was promoting its “Go USA” mittens, and the sort of misspelled drunk-tweet they posted was an example of what allegedly happens when one attempts to type on a smartphone while wearing mittens. Apparently their point was that their mittens work poorly with smartphones? As marketing campaigns go, it’s not necessarily the most compelling, but it did get a lot of attention.