Kmart surprised consumers everywhere recently with the “Ship My Pants” ad, a viral juvenile-humor hit viewed more than 17 million times on YouTube since being released in April. Now, the all-purpose discount retailer appears to have struck goofy gold yet again, with an online ad promoting Kmart’s “big gas savings.”
Say either phrase quickly — “ship my pants,” “big gas savings” — and you get the joke. Each of these phrases is repeated and tweaked over and over in their respective ads.
“Whoah, I just might ship my pants,” a woman says, upon hearing word from a Kmart sales staffer describing the retailer’s service that ships goods for free to customers who can’t find items them want in stores. “I just shipped my pants and it’s very convenient,” an older woman chimes in. As the variations on shipping one’s pants (and drawers and nighties and beds) continues on, as does the “Beavis and Butthead”-type giggling of viewers, presumably.
The “Ship My Pants” extended poop joke was such a hit—it quickly became one of the most-shared ads ever—it was probably inevitably that Kmart would follow up with another attempt at silly tongue-in-cheek humor.
On Wednesday, Kmart did just that, releasing a “Big Gas Savings” ad on YouTube. This time, the ad promotes a 30¢ off per gallon gas deal at participating gas stations for customers who spend at least $50 at Kmart. The deal almost seems besides the point, however. The main point of the ad is to make people laugh … and think about Kmart more.
“Sounds like you could use some big gas savings,” one woman says to another—who happens to be the mom featured in “Ship My Pants”—as they’re filling up at a gas station. “Thirty cents a gallon, that’s a big gas discount,” a bearded man says. “Dad, look at that big gas truck,” a boy (also from “Ship My Pants”) says, pointing to a gas tanker. And on and on.
All along, of course, “big gas” sounds like, well, you know what. What’s curious about the promotion is that Kmart isn’t in the business of selling gasoline. Supermarkets, warehouse membership clubs, and Walmart have been known to offer discounts on gas, via loyalty programs or “Rollback” specials, and these deals especially make sense because all of the companies involve also have gas stations. Kmart customers, on the other hand, must get their gas discounts at a gas station run by BP or Speedway, which are partnering with Kmart. Perhaps Kmart’s deal will entice some customers to cross that $50 threshold in order to get their “big gas savings.” But it seems unlikely that Kmart will get much in the way of “big gas” revenues due to this promotion.
It makes one wonder whether, perhaps, the whole “big gas” production was reverse-engineered because the wordplay was funny. For that matter, there’s some irony in Kmart’s active promoting of the “Ship My Pants” service — a service that more or less admits that the retailer’s physical stores have serious shortcomings. Namely, that brick-and-mortar locations often don’t have goods in stock that customers want, so they must resort to ordering stuff online.
In any event, while it is exceptionally difficult to manufacture viral ad success even once, Kmart appears to have back-to-back hits on its hands. As of Friday morning, the ad had already been viewed around 1.4 million times on YouTube. Here it is: