This is very well done and uses viral marketing techniques to really get this word out. Watch it, then read below.
Meghan Keane writes about J.C. Penney’s now widely watched “doghouse” video in her Wired blog:
If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, J.C. Penney must be pretty glad it picked the right planet to mock for its viral ad campaign this holiday season.
The discount retailer released an ad called The Doghouse three weeks ago that fictionalizes the plight of men who buy the wrong gifts for their significant others. In the ad, a well-intentioned man buys his wife a new dual bag vacuum for Christmas, only to find himself dropped into the doghouse, an underworld prison where men go when they purchase bad presents for the women in their lives.
People love it. The ad has been viewed over 1.7 million times since J.C. Penney uploaded it to BewareOfTheDoghouse.com and YouTube three weeks ago, according to Visible Measures, a video analytics firm. Since then, the 4-1/2 minute video has received 56 placements across 9 different video sites. Over 90 percent of those have been community driven.
“The response has definitely exceeded our expectations,” says Quinton Crenshaw, a spokesperson for J.C. Penney’s. “It’s taken on a life of its own.”
The retailer has focused the majority of this campaign online, with the devoted website, a facebook page and some good old fashioned male mockery. Unlike many traditional ads, the company’s brand does not factor in until the very end of the long video, when it suggests men get out of the doghouse by purchasing diamonds from J.C. Penney.
But with just a slight misjudgment in tone, an online ad can go completely awry.
That’s what happened with a Motrin ad that Johnson and Johnson pulled earlier this month. The drug giant created a short video ad on its website, aimed at mothers who get back pain while carrying their babies. But the ad struck a nerve with a vocal demographic, mommy bloggers, who found the ad condescending and demanded the ad get pulled. They succeeded in short order, with Johnson and Johnson pulling the ad within hours of the criticism.
It’s hard to say why the reactions were different. The Motrin pitch was seen as patronizing, however unwittingly, while the Penney campaign purposelessly tapped into a meme — cluelessness — that many men proudly embrace (or at least acknowledge to the opposite sex), as well as the quick and easy recoveries they make to stay in the game.
“It’s aimed at men looking to purchase jewelry,” says Dave Howlett, senior director of consumer insights for J.D. Power and Associates, “but it actually markets to women, making men the butt of the joke.”
And that strategy appears to have worked.
“I like the J.C. Penney ad because it takes a universal situation — what to get someone you care about — and makes it a joke,” Ochman tells Wired.com. “It could just as easily have been women who bought men ties, or socks for an important occasion instead of a piece of jewelry, which is a gift that signifies a relationship is at a level with a degree of permanence.”
Howlett doesn’t think that it would have worked the same way if it mocked women:
“I come at this from a bit of a sexist approach. I would like to think that men are more self-deprecating than women, but I don’t think it would be as successful if it were making fun of women buying bad gifts.”
The J.C. Penney campaign is not without its detractors. The Doghouse has a smaller, but vocal set of critics. Allison Linn, a blogger for MSNBC, writes:
“We’re not sure who should be more offended by this campaign: Men, who are painted as sexist, clueless dolts, or women, who are shown as mean-spirited and materialistic, willing to mete out menial punishment but swayed by glittery things.”
But as much as some people are complaining about the video’s content, others are forwarding it to their friends. B.L. Ochman wrote in AdAge last week:
The Doghouse came to me from women friends, it came in a direct message on Twitter and more than one male friend sent it with the note, “I know you’ll love this.” And that, in a nutshell, is what makes a viral. One friend saying to another: “I know you’ll get a kick out of this, relate to this, etc.”
“The worst thing that can happen to a viral video is that no one can talk about it,” says Matt Cutler, vice president of marketing and analytics at Visible Measures. “If you look at the history of commercially driven viral videos, there is always some degree of controversy associated with them.”
And, it seems the campaign has officially influenced at least one man for the better. Says Cutler: “For the record, I’m now reconsidering a few of my planned (ahem!) holiday gifts.”