J.C. Penney (JCP) probably thought it had a nifty idea to promote its stock of mittens: Get a staffer to wear a pair and try to tweet during the Super Bowl, sending out garbled messages that would pique interest in the cold-weather wear.
The only problem? Many viewers and even other companies seemed to think that someone was drunkenly tweeting behind the J.C. Penney Twitter handle, @jcpenney. After mangled tweets such as “Who kkmew theis was ghoing tob e a baweball ghamle,” Kia Motors America wrote, “Hey @jcpenney need a designated driver?”
Toughdown Seadawks!! Is sSeattle going toa runaway wit h this???— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 3, 2014
With the Super Bowl ranking as the year’s most-watched event, marketers are eager to muscle in on the attention. For those with deep pockets, buying airtime during the game can ensure millions of captive eyeballs. But others seek to gain an edge by throwing out a catchy sentiment on social media, such as Oreo’s clever tweet during last year's Super Bowl blackout, when it reminded viewers they could “still dunk in the dark.”
J.C. Penney’s message, though, was more of a head-scratcher.
Who kkmew theis was ghiong tob e a baweball ghamle. #lowsscorinh 5_0— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 2, 2014
Some fans asked if whoever was tweeting for the retailer was OK, with many speculating that the person was drunk. Others wondered if the person the company's Twitter account had been hacked.
The suspense didn’t last long.
“Oops … Sorry for the typos. We were #TweetingWithMittens,” the retailer explained after a couple of garbled messages.
On the one hand, J.C. Penney managed to bring attention to a clothing item that generally doesn’t make headlines. And the mixed-up tweets got people talking about the retailer and its social-media strategy, although the reception was a mixed bag of positive and negative views.
Still, that’s a definite improvement from the past year, when headlines have focused on the company's declining sales, an ousted CEO and retailing missteps.
“We knew Twitter would be very active but wanted to find a way to stay above the Super Bowl fray and instead create our own narrative,” a J.C. Penney spokeswoman told BuzzFeed.
Creating a unique narrative is nevertheless a far cry from Oreo’s game-stealing tweet, which was both clear and clever.
J.C. Penney’s message appears to be, “Don’t type while wearing mittens." That's not exactly a compelling reason to buy a pair.