Today I will be analyzing this commercial: Kmart The Walk (Click to view the commercial)
Intended message: You can be hip and cool this new school year, drawing everyone’s attention, all because you wore clothing you bought from Kmart. It’s funny because these kids are on a catwalk like adults! Oh and look, there’s Dubstep music too!
Perceived Message: So the new school year’s starting up, and you desperately need to find your new look. But where to shop? Kohl’s? Carson’s? Maybe even JCPenny? You might consider shopping at a store that specializes in its sale of clothes, but no, you choose to shop at the lovable, high-quality franchise known as Kmart.
Is this really what Kmart thinks kids believe these days? That Kmart is the “hot spot” for fashion? I can just picture it. “Yo dawg, where did you get them duds fo sizzle?” “I got them at the Kmart!” “Oh SNAAAAAP!”
Now I know that the point of advertising is to convince people what to think of your product. However, being a film major, I know that one has to base his or her message at least somewhat in what the audience already thinks and believes, otherwise the audience won’t accept any new ideas the commercial is proposing. In other words, the conclusion of your argument can’t be use as evidence to support your conclusion.
Now don’t get me wrong, I used Kmart as my source of Legos and Yu-Gi-Oh cards back in the day. However, is one commercial going to radically change my perception of Kmart as a clothing store? I’m inclined to say no.
But hey! I have an idea. How about we add this hip new thing called Dubstep into the commercial? Kids love Dubstep, right? Yeah! What better way to make our product appear cool, dank, and fly for the flashy 21st century than some of this Dubstep the kids are listening to? Since Dubstep is relevant, it’ll make our product relevant too right?
Wrong. Case and Point: Internet Explorer (Click to view the commercial)
Internet Explorer, I’m sorry, but Dubstep does not make you relevant either. You can’t drop the BASS if you don’t BASE your commercial in reality. (See what I did there?)
Back to Kmart though. The biggest problem that I have with the commercial, one that I’m sure you’ve realized, is the fact that these catwalk models are only 9 years old. I’ll repeat that. These tots are only 9 years old. Now I’m sure that these could be perfectly normal kids who the producers told to wear too much make-up and walk in a certain way down the platform. However, I find it much more likely that the parents of these kids put their little angels through a crash course in sexualization in order to make a quick buck. So much for not ruining childhood innocence.
My question for these parents is: when has an overblown excitement to have your kid grow up ever worked out for the better? Forgive me for using the slippery-slope argument, but if this is what these kids judge as acceptable now, what will they be doing at age 13? Age 19? One only has to look at Toddlers and Tiaras for an example. Or how about Jenna Rose (Who is 12 in this video)? Please explain to me any possible scenario for this girl’s future that is consistent with wholesome family values.
However, the worst part about this is not about the children in the commercial. That damage has been done. Instead, I’d like to draw attention to the message this is sending the viewers at home. It’s not cute. The kids viewing this commercial don’t get the joke that these kids are too young to be on the catwalk. They see these sexualized kids their age and believe that this is what it means to be popular. This is what it takes to be accepted and admired. Who’da thunk it? A method sexualization that comes from, of all places, Kmart.
I’m inclined to think that Kmart isn’t totally oblivious to this though, especially when they use the tagline “work it” to appeal to the preteen demographic.
I have one final gripe before I rap this post up. Am I the only one who finds the intercut glances of the adults watching this promenade a little creepy? (Especially the one at 0:40) Keeping in mind that these kids are 9 years old, it would be one thing for the adults’ expressions to communicate that they think this whole thing is cute for preteens, but these expressions are that of infatuation.
Adult infatuation with 9-year-olds. Not creepy at all, Kmart.
Well, there you have it. I hope you’ve enjoyed my first blog post about everything wrong with Kmart’s commercial. Check back next time where I analyze the lyrics of popular Taylor Swift songs.