Controversial Ads

Looking back over the past year, or more recently just this past month, we noticed one ad in particular causing quite a stir. With all of the new holiday commercials trying to sell you this or that, the “Show Your Joe” or lovingly nicknamed “Jingle Balls” commercial from Kmart stood out… to everyone. Some consumers were outraged — calling the ad “offensive” and “filth” — while others found it to be genius and hilarious, deeming it the best ad of the season. The ad got people talking, but it’s hard to say whether it got people buying.

Internet users have spent the equivalent of 26 years watching “Show Your Joe.” It’s driven 1,613 subscriptions to the channel and 93,916 shares to social media. In the past 30 days, “Show Your Joe” has a sentiment score of 64 on Topsy.

Although the brand’s social media team has been quite busy on Twitter since the video launched, sending more than 500 @-reply tweets to the effect of “We regret if you found it to be inappropriate”, “That was not our intent”, “We hope you’ll have a happy holiday”, or “Thanks for your feedback”…

So begs the question – do the numbers justify the risk of alienating consumers?

While it’s unclear yet if the ads led to conversions, it’s safe to say that they had an impact at the top of the marketing funnel, where awareness is the goal. Though the brand didn’t appear until the end of the ad and thus ranked poorly in terms of effectiveness, the controversial nature of the ad put it in the mainstream media, where it was made pretty clear that this was, in fact, a Kmart ad. Just take a look at a few media headlines:

Kmart Goes Balls Out for Christmas Commercial (

Kmart Hunks Play ‘Jingle Bells’ With Their Junk in Crazy Christmas Ad (AdWeek)

Kmart’s ‘Jingle Bells’ Ad Has Legs (Mashable)

Kmart’s ‘Jingle Bells’ ad goes viral, sparks One Million Moms protest (L.A. Times)

Kmart Holiday commercial for Joe Boxer sparks outrage online (New York Daily News)

It seems clear that it indeed drove awareness — whether you liked the ad or not, you probably have been thinking more about Kmart in the past five weeks than in the five weeks prior. We’ll have to wait until earnings reports come out to know whether Kmart’s Q4 sales are up and to assess whether “Show Your Joe” drove conversions.

But as the adage goes, there’s no such thing as bad press.

Would you rather have a controversial ad or none at all? Tell us what you think.

*Facts obtained from

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