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J.C. Penney’s Tweeting with Mittens — Dazzling or Daft?

Posted: February 14, 2014, 3:17 p.m.,
by Dustin Winn, Guest Contributor.

People are sometimes quick to criticize and with social media, it’s never been easier. During the Super Bowl, J.C. Penney took to Twitter to promote its Team USA mittens by misspelling tweets and then later apologizing by saying the company was “Tweeting with mittens on.” Since this campaign took place, public relations professionals have been quick to lash out at the campaign, saying that even though it got attention, it was desperate.

“We personally found the ‘tweeting with mittens’ stunt ridiculous,” said Patrick Coffee of PR Newser. “It looked a lot like a dying company’s desperate attempt at relevance.”

There is no denying J.C. Penney is a company that is desperate to find a way to be relevant in today’s consumer market. But is that a reason to discredit its smart thinking when developing this campaign? I think not.

What was the goal of J.C. Penney’s campaign? It was to promote a product and get attention through social media engagement. Sticking to the sports theme, let’s take a look at the scoreboard and see how it turned out.


Looks like a couple of touchdowns. What about promoting its product? How about another 3,854 retweets of its mittens with its explanation for its drunk-like tweets? That’s more of a field goal but still points toward an undeniable win.

This campaign was effective because it was unusual and exploited something that is expected from a company — good grammar and spelling. People have grown accustomed to good grammar and spelling from companies. No company wants to look incompetent, so tweets are double- and triple-checked before being sent. With that in mind, it’s no shock that people went into a frenzy when the tweets were sent out. What was going on? Did @jcpenney get hacked? Were they drunk? Why was this happening?

The conversation spread so quickly that other brands jumped at the chance to get in on the action. Snickers, Kia and Doritos all sent tweets to @jcpenney with clever responses that engaged and promoted their own brands.



That looks like nearly another 5,000 retweets directed at J.C. Penney. That total keeps on rising. Should I include the online articles by and other news outlets about the tweets? Nah, I think you get the point.

It’s safe to say that by the end of the day, J.C. Penney got more than 50,000 retweets from this campaign and a countless number of views on Twitter and on the Web. A week later, the attention has subsided but the memory of this campaign has not faded. Will this campaign be enough to save J.C. Penney from its demise? Probably not, but there is no denying it’s going out with a bang. Well played, J.C. Penney; well played.

Follow Dustin Winn on Twitter at @d_prophet86 or add him on LinkedIn at

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