Kmart has taken its Back To School campaign to a new level with a branded music video starring a group of 10-13-year-old rappers, called ‘Da Rich Kidzz’.
The three-minute video features the extremely catchy track “My Limo” and has all the visual cues you would expect from a rap video: the energy, dancing, singing and general party scenes are of which are spot on and lend an authenticity to the film clip.
In fact the only major difference is the kids – oh and the fact that the limo, is a school bus emblazoned with the Kmart ‘K’.
The track features lines such as: “Back to school in my limo and fly is how you catch me, Gear so fresh I got my own paparrazi” and “I get mad props every single day, you can do the same, use the Shop my Way”.
The kids are decked head-to-toe in Kmart gear and at various times throughout the film can be seen waving Kmart school supplies.
Kmart worked with agency DraftFCB Chicago, music producer and songwriter Alonzo Jackson and of course Da Rich Kidzz, who achieved fame after their rap “Hot Cheetos and Takis” became a viral sensation.
The aim of the film is to promote Kmart’s Shop My Way, a social loyalty program which enables members to earn points and gain benefits across physical and digital formats, as well as push the Back to School range.
It’s the latest in a string of activity from the retailer, which has been riding a wave of buzz thanks to an irreverent and entertaining marketing campaign which aims to boost the brand’s ailing fortunes. This branded film is no exeception, it is supported by an interactive website and will be cut-down into 30-second TVCs to be screened on-air.
After years of declining sales in a challenging retail environment – Kmart has closed more than 80 stores across the US in the last 18 months – and a struggling brand image, Kmart has unleashed an edgy campaign designed to put the ailing brand top of mind with consumers.
A rap video is a savvy move from the retailer and it's a clear indication that Kmart is pulling out all stops to give its brand edge and personality in the ruthlessly competitive retail sector.
Kmart has not only struggled to get market share against rival brands such as Wal-Mart and Target, it's also struggled to define its offering and its brand. As Time Business said: "Let’s be honest: Kmart isn’t cool. In the pantheon of big-box general merchandise retailers, Walmart is the 600-pound gorilla, inexorable in its pursuit of efficiency and cheap prices. Target is sort of the hip one. And Kmart, well, it’s just kind of there, right?"
At a time where retailers are working harder than ever to tease customers into their stores – bricks & mortar or online – the brand and its image has become crucial. Retailers need to offer a major point of difference, be it experience, service or brand, it’s got to stand for something.
Kmart is going for broke here, the aim is not only to capture peoples attention and make them laugh, they are also desperate to push their online model and appeal to a new younger audience - young families with kids.
Kmart is largely being kept afloat by Baby Boomers, so the need to engage younger families and their children, is more important that ever.
This strategy is evident in 'My Limo', which scores point for authenticity with kids, while appealing to parents in the "oh how cute" manner. It also fits perfectly with the ongoing story Kmart has been weaving through its recent marketing activity.
The viral sensation 'Ship My Pants', attracted more than 20 million views online and helped bring irreverence to a brand that was widely regarded as irrelevant. The ad while amusing millions with a very basic poo joke sort to push the brand's online offering.
It was followed by the punny 'Big Gas Savings' and 'Yo Mama', a fresh positive take on the slanging match featuring lines such as: “Yo Mama so fashion forward, the future called and they want your high tops back.” Both of these ads have caused a stir – although not to the same effect as Ship My Pants.
Yet they have all contributed to an ongoing strategy to position Kmart as an irreverant and entertaining brand and generate huge awareness of the retailers online offering, loyalty program and its product range.
Kmart is no stranger to the role of branded entertainment, its Kmart Fashion sub brand has created a mass of content, which calls on the brands affiliation with celebrities and designers through the plethora of celebrity clothing ranges that are sold exclusively by Kmart. However this is the first time the brand has incorporated branded entertainment into a major campaign particularly one with the significance of the Back To School push.
With the prominence and importance of the Back to School campaign, this film is a big move from Kmart and a savvy one. As a piece of branded entertainment I think it's successful, the kids energy and enthusiasm is infectious. The delivery is authentic, despite the product heavy lyrics. The kids are clearly enjoying themselves and the excitement of going back to school is evident throughout the piece.
More than anything Da Rich Kidzz lend a level of authenticity and a "cool factor" the brand could not have created on its own. The clothes look good and the kids look cool - and that is a massive win for Kmart. The challenge for Kmart is maintaining this level of authenticity with the kids - a tricky one to manage - and keeping their parents coming back to the store.
To me the whole campaign is so unexpected and brave that it reveals just how much is at stake for Kmart. The retailer is throwing its weight behind Kmart.com in a bid to turn the companies fortunes around and ideally boost sales and profits. This is no surprise however the style of the campaign is very surprising. This is the campaign the client buys when something's got to give and Kmart has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I like it and I think the brand is gaining very positive consideration from it. However the proof of success will be in Kmart's ability to convert the millions of online views and buzz into actual traffic to the stores and ultimately sales which, after all, are the only measure that matter.
A great piece of branded entertainment that fits seamlessly into the ongoing marketing campaign. 4 stars.