Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

For Whom The Bells Toll

Kmart jinglersTraditionalists who like Dreaming of a White Christmas probably never dreamed that a chorus line of men in a TV ad would waggle in their skivvies to intone Jingle Bells.

“Show Your Joe,” the 55-second handiwork of Kmart’s creative department, has a group of men – clad in tuxedo jackets and Joe Boxer shorts – swishing their hips and performing like a set of orchestra bells.

Not surprisingly, the commercial lit up social media. For Kmart, that was anticipated, if not planned.

Ship My PantsThe often overlooked retailer, which is connected at the hip with Sears, has used controversial TV advertising before to create buzz, including its “Ship My Pants” spot. Another bell-ringer featured Vaughn Lowery doing the “Boxer Boogie” in an ad presaging the “Show Your Joe” spot.

Many online critics said “Show Your Joe” was tasteless and disgusting. A spokesperson for the Parents Television Council predicted the ad would hurt Kmart sales and lead to awkward conversations between mom, dad and junior. You can imagine a real dad trying to explain the real sounds when testicles clank.

Hurting sales may be the last of Kmart’s worries. Its sales have been hurting for some time. All Kmart wishes for Christmas is that tail-wagging men pretending to be human bells can stimulate interest in Joe Boxer underwear and other goods it sells.

Which brings us around to the unspoken issue in this brouhaha – what does all this have to do with Christmas? Interestingly, few people if anyone objected to the Kmart ad as being offensive to the spirit of Christmas.

The truth is Christmas has been hijacked by retailers and turned into a make-or-break commercial moment. Moment isn’t exactly the right time reference, as retailers start hauling out Christmas goods as soon as the first leaf turns color in the fall.

The flap over “Show Your Joe” is occurring before Thanksgiving, which has taken on the ominous nickname this year of Black Thursday since retailers will start their Black Friday sales early.

In light of all the commercialization of Christmas, it is hard to see “Show Your Joe” as any more offensive than ads encouraging families to skip the prayer and small talk and gulp down their turkeys so they can go shopping.

“Show Your Joe” won’t cause me to head over to Kmart. But it’s clever Christmas theme is more likely to crack a smile than jerk a knee.


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