Lessing Flynn

Ad Mavericks

December 21, 2011

Hey Kmart - Meet the Grinch

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?

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