Making Kmart irresistible

ant shannonIn this guest post, creative director Ant Shannon argues that low prices don’t need to mean cheap advertising, as his work for Kmart demonstrates.

When I was first asked to work on a new campaign for Kmart I had hesitations.

Sometimes when a brand just wants to push itself as cheap, unfortunately that’s what the advertising can turn out like.

But on meeting with the Kmart team, their infectious enthusiasm to do something good won me over.

I was up for the challenge to do something people would love.

As marketing manager Dion Workman said, “We want people to turn left when they enter the shopping centre”

The tracking and consumer feedback on the brand showed that loyal customers loved shopping the brand. But, although they knew how good the product was, they were reluctant to tell others that they shopped there.

Mothers loved shopping Kmart, as you could give the kids $10 and they could buy heaps of stuff. Young singles and couples knew you could set up home with great stuff, that looked like you’d bought the latest in contemporary appliances and home wares.

But how do create a campaign that allows people to become outspoken Kmart brand fans?

I started by going through the Kmart catalogues.

One product that caught my eye was the swim shorts. They looked like expensive Gant shorts and they were only $5.

$5! What an unbelievable price.

What made them come up with that price, surely they could have sold them for

$9? At what point did the price not really matter?

Well, it was the perception of the Kmart brand of course that had a big influence on why people didn’t want to rush in and buy some.

To people who didn’t shop the store regularly, the Kmart marketing and its logo (this was unchangeable) was what influenced them.

The DDS battleground was being fought purely on price.

Kmart had been running a campaign that was effective in letting people know they were cheap.

Hundreds of mums walking around the store discovering that the prices were cheaper than they imagined.

But that was only reinforcing what we knew. It was playing in the rational territory of a ‘$10 all you can eat’ restaurant.

Plus, the tracking feedback was that mums thought it was starting to portray them as dumb on price knowledge.

I knew from my years on Just Jeans and Portmans that the customers at Westfield had a pretty good knowledge of which stores operated in which price brackets.

Kmart had indicated their desire for something new, something that would make their product and the brand more desirable.

We had been playing around with a few proposition lines, but it wasn’t till I fashioned ‘We make low prices irresistible’ that we thought we had something that could work.

Over the summer, a lot of my friends commented on the Apple ‘Bounce’ ad for the iPod.

They loved the way it was infectious in a kind of colour and movement way.

Sort of like the Telly Tubbies for adults.

Apple has had a long history with promoting and worshiping great design

I thought that maybe we could use the same elements they use, to make the Kmart product ‘Irresistible’.

So, we looked at ways of using CGI to make the products look great. (One of the benefits you get from multiplying the product is the sub text that you can buy more than one, at that price!)

We also went deep into a search for an infectious music track – Bom Bom by British group Sam and the Womp.

So there it was, a campaign where we used cool modern computer imaging techniques to make the product look amazing, plus a track that importantly captured the fun and excitement of a smart purchase decision.

The price is still there in the ads but it’s handled in a smarter way, and it’s done in a way that acknowledges the consumer awareness of price brackets.

Kmart now feels like a cooler more self-assured brand.

The sales of course are where it happens, and the campaign with the roll out of upgraded stores is working

I’m happy to say that Kmart is experiencing irresistible store growth.

  • Ant Shannon is creative director of Shannon & Co. He worked on the Kmart project on behalf of BWM


  1. Caesar Wong
    10 Sep 13
    12:17 pm

  2. Thanks for providing us with the insight behind this! I like it.

  3. paris
    10 Sep 13
    1:13 pm

  4. Great campaign and interesting creative insight. I can’t get that song out of my head!

  5. Travis
    10 Sep 13
    1:18 pm

  6. Great article and even greater ad.

    Quick grammar question though – since when did we stop saying “at”, as in “mothers loved shopping AT Kmart” or “shop AT the store”?

  7. Manion
    10 Sep 13
    1:21 pm

  8. It is Telly Tubbies for adults! Great campaign and I’ll even confess to shopping in the recently rennovated Bondi Junction store this weekend

  9. Jeanette_kc
    10 Sep 13
    1:24 pm

  10. I am a huge fan of this campaign. I’m pretty sure I actually stared, slack-jawed, at my TV when it first came on, and then fell over myself trying to articulate why I thought it was so clever to my (non-marketing) friends.

    Maybe I’ll just forward them this article instead…

  11. Christie
    10 Sep 13
    1:25 pm

  12. You’ve done an awesome job Ant. We work with thousands of mums to educate them on brand/brand updates, etc and the reception to Kmart has been outstanding.

  13. john hollands
    10 Sep 13
    1:28 pm

  14. Isn’t this a perfect example of selling sizzle not steak?

    Making people feel good about their purchases – better than priceless.

  15. Red
    10 Sep 13
    1:30 pm

  16. Nice insight into the creative process.

  17. insights manager
    10 Sep 13
    1:50 pm

  18. Great insight lead strategy, lovely creative and infectious song. You have most definitely given Target a run for their money (I should know – I used to work there).

  19. James B.
    10 Sep 13
    1:50 pm

  20. I do like the campaign, but it doesn’t change the fact that DDSs still fight it out on price. A changed look and feel to some TVCs doesn’t change anything fundamental about the brand. It’s still just a (much) more attractive way of demonstrating low prices

  21. Lucy
    10 Sep 13
    1:52 pm

  22. I love these ads – definitely one of the best campaigns on TV

  23. Robert Belgiovane
    10 Sep 13
    1:54 pm

  24. I almost choked on my lunch…Ant you forgot to mention ACD Amy Hollier, Gus, CD Sean Brannigan, Jamie Mackay, Carl Ratcliff and the rest of the team both client and agency side who also developed the idea.
    Well done gang.

  25. Alischa
    10 Sep 13
    2:06 pm

  26. Big congrats! I’ve been admiring this campaign since it began. Love the execution and of course the soundtrack. Makes me happy every time I see/hear it. It certainly worked on re-positioning Kmart for me. Target and Big W must be hating it.

  27. Carl Ratcliff
    10 Sep 13
    2:25 pm

  28. Mate your top spin is irresistible. Well done you.

  29. DC
    10 Sep 13
    2:33 pm

  30. Well done to all involved, my favourite retail campaign in a very long time. Glad it’s paying dividends.

  31. Willow
    10 Sep 13
    3:26 pm

  32. Haha, Ant is taking all the credit! He’s a one man band.

  33. Jet
    10 Sep 13
    4:32 pm

  34. Almost 100% of my kitchenware is Kmart. Now, thanks to these ads, everyone knows my dirty little secret – love it!

  35. Casual commenter
    10 Sep 13
    5:29 pm

  36. Congratulations Ant. great work!

    I love that the selling line was “fashioned”!

    @James_B, I think you’ve missed that this does represent a fundamental change for the brand – its advertising. The product hasn’t changed because as Ant explained, that was the brief.

  37. Jimi Bostock
    10 Sep 13
    6:45 pm

  38. A great campaign and thanks for sharing the insights

  39. Kelly
    10 Sep 13
    7:55 pm

  40. Love these ads Ant. You are a master at retail ( memories of JJ days) and always knew the power of a consumer insight. Take a great music track coupled with the clients product in a clever and unique way and Bom Bom Bom!

  41. SJ
    10 Sep 13
    8:28 pm

  42. Couldn’t he have just written ‘Picked a catchy song’ ?

  43. Carntherawprawn
    10 Sep 13
    9:41 pm

  44. U forgot to mention the overwhelmingly innovative kmart strategy of ‘make me something like the Bonds ads’. Well done u.

  45. Cath
    11 Sep 13
    9:58 am

  46. Great campaign. One I never tire of seeing. Makes me want to go shopping…at Kmart

  47. Shani anderson
    11 Sep 13
    8:11 pm

  48. Ant love these ads, well done. So clever

  49. Danny Wu
    13 Sep 13
    6:16 am

  50. It was pretty obvious that Kmart was moving to cheap and cheerful, though the sourcing of the products at rock bottom prices are irresistible. Much more effective than ‘OK ad.

  51. RL
    13 Sep 13
    12:00 pm

  52. Finally a creative thinking strategically!

  53. NJK
    13 Sep 13
    4:50 pm

  54. They are great ads. It’s just a shame the products they promote are usually rubbish quality.

  55. rosem'ry bertel
    13 Sep 13
    5:55 pm

  56. What do they say?

    Good advertising makes you think.
    Clever advertising makes you feel.
    Great advertising does both.

    And what’s better to feel than happy.

    Well done, that AntMan.


  57. Awards
    13 Sep 13
    8:25 pm

  58. A great campaign. Well done everyone involved.

  59. SAM
    16 Sep 13
    2:08 pm

  60. Best retail advertising I’ve seen in years. It wowed me when I first saw it and despite several viewings, the catchy music still makes me look up from my 2nd screen to see what the ad features this time. Brilliant. Now, can you please work on Coles and improve their ads?!

  61. charles sturt
    26 Sep 13
    10:04 am

  62. What a great copycat campaign direct from the JOE FRESH campaign.