JCPenney fooled us all with their drunk-seeming Super Bowl tweets, which they later revealed to be the result of "tweeting with mittens." Mittens you can buy at JCPenney, of course. It was either a weirdly successful marketing ploy or a really mean trick to pull on on cold social media editors.
The retailer tweeted out a few garbled messages during the game:
Toughdown Seadawks!! Is sSeattle going toa runaway wit h this???— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 3, 2014
Who kkmew theis was ghiong tob e a baweball ghamle. #lowsscorinh 5_0— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 2, 2014
These were quickly noticed and commented on by many, many people — and retweeted and favorited by the thousands — who naturally assumed some social media intern was about to lose their job. They also didn't give up the chance to enjoy some schadenfreude and promote their own bands by pointing out the sloppy tweets:
Hey @jcpenney need a designated driver?— Kia Motors America (@Kia) February 3, 2014
But the joke was on Kia, Frito-Lay (parent company of Doritos) and Mars (parent company of Snickers) because they each spent exorbitant amounts of cash for actual commercial spots during the game, but still created less buzz than the retailer's online "mitten tweet" marketing stunt:
VentureBeat said the tweets helped the brand "stand out on a day when brands are willing to spend multiple millions to capture consumer attention." Some suspected that JCPenney's claim that the tweets were part of a #TweetingWithMittens campaign was an attempt to cover up an errant employee, but the company told CNBC they were intentional:
"This is part of a stunt our social team is doing tonight to promote the Go USA mittens we are selling (proceeds benefit the United States Olympic Committee - also our J .C . Penney Cares partner this January)," the company said in an emailed statement to CNBC. "Our social team is tweeting with their 'mittens on' ."
A JCPenney spokeswoman also spoke to BuzzFeed about the company strategy:
“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,” Kate Coultas, a spokeswoman for J.C. Penney, told BuzzFeed in an e-mail. “Given it was cold, and we are selling Go USA mittens — we thought it could be a fun stunt!”
JCPenney turned to social media after a huge slump in sales in recent years, appealing to shoppers' nostalgia in a video ad posted to Facebook. Looks like the team has held onto those social media chops, although we wonder whether pretending you're drunk (or doing anything really) will actually help sell Olympic-themed mittens.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.