JCPenney Was Acting All Weird On Twitter Last Night Because It Got The Weather Wrong

It’s been a rough year for JCPenney, but people were still surprised to see that its social media manager was drinking on the job during last night’s Super Bowl.

At least that’s what it looked like to the outside world when the struggling retailer posted these two garbled tweets within an hour of one another early in the game:

The misspelled tweets confused onlookers, who said the person running the account had committed a “party foul” by being drunk so early in the game and would likely be fired in the morning.

Even other brands, like Snickers and Coors Light, got in on the action:

But after a combined 40,000+ retweets of the first two messages, JCPenney revealed at halftime the real reason for its poor spelling: its Twitter account was being run by someone wearing the Team USA branded mittens JCPenney is selling for the upcoming Sochi Olympics.

Though the Super Bowl was actually played in fairly comfortable weather conditions (it was 49 degrees at kickoff), it seems JCPenney was locked into a social media strategy it developed when people were speculating that New Jersey’s northern climate could lead to the Super Bowl being played in the freezing cold, or even in the snow.

The ultimate reveal was seemingly met with less fanfair (just 3,706 retweets) than the first two tweets, and got mixed reviews from the people who commented. Generally, it seemed like social media professionals enjoyed the bit, while others were less impressed.

In this respect, it’s sort of hard to gauge the actual sentiment toward the campaign, as the Twitter bios of the people who interacted with JCPenney’s posts indicate that most of them are involved in media in one way or another.

Either way, JCPenney’s pre-planned social media strategy presents an interesting case study with regard to real-time marketing. In speaking with several social media specialists about their plans for the big game, there was a divide between those who had tweets and Facebook posts ready to go in advance, and those who felt that there needed to be at least some degree of spontaneity in order for the brand to feel authentic.

In this case, JCPenney’s work was obviously pre-packaged, and frankly, a bit lame. But JCPenney’s value proposition is its vast selection of affordable products, rather than a hip public profile. To that extent, the brand made thousands of people aware of its mittens, a product many will presumably want to buy for the future, even if the weather conditions in New Jersey ruined the premise of the joke.

For our money, though, JCPenney’s antics have nothing on the GOAT (“Greatest Of All Time”) garbled tweet stunt, which was performed by the legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson to promote his book last year.

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