Don't make jokes that point out the infirmities of aging.


Kmart has garnered well over 7.6 million views with its "Ship my Pants" YouTube video in which customers promote Kmart's free shipping service by mouthing this quasi-obscene statement. If this marketer is one of the "I don't care what they say about me as long as they remember my name" school, this advertisement is a big hit.

If we look beyond the numbers, the picture isn't as rosy. 20.4% of Kmart's customers are over 65--not an insignificant portion of its clientele. Of this demographic, 15% to 30% suffer from incontinence--over 12 million Americans. Not only is it unlikely that they will find "ship" my pants funny, it's also unlikely that the millions of other 65+ Kmart customers who are afraid of acquiring this affliction will be laughing very loudly. Add in those boomers whose parents suffer from incontinence or are afraid of acquiring it themselves, and I don't think that Kmart is doing itself any favors with this advertising.

It's not that humor doesn't work when targeting a mature audience, it's just that

advertisers have to be sensitive to the medical issues this cohort confronts. Much of the humor involving illnesses and medical conditions that works well with a younger audience is only successful because a relatively small portion of that audience is actually affected by the condition being made fun of or the condition isn't chronic (like a cold or indigestion) so the emotions attached to it aren't as strong.

If there were a good possibility that you were going to be shi**ing your pants for the rest of your life, would you be laughing at this ad and thinking highly of Kmart?

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