T.J. Maxx had an interesting proposal recently. (See what I did there?)
A loyal T.J. Maxx customer, Lisa Satayut, decided that she wanted to have her wedding in the shoe aisle of one of their Michigan stores. So she wrote to the corporate office asking permission. I image there was a bit of head-scratching at first, but obviously the PR possibilities were immediately evident. After all,Bass Pro Shops
is always in the news for their redneck weddings. Why the hell not?
So ultimately permission was granted. Wedding on. PR cranked up. Interviews galore.
Here's the problem. Miss Satayut came off as bat-sh*t crazy. I mean either she was a badly cast plant by T.J. Maxx, thought she needed to help promote the hell out of the store or really was the demon of all consumerism she came off as, but any way you look at it this woman was not playing with a full deck. In every interview she was practically salivating with giddy glee as she looked at the shoes surrounding her. Frankly, if she is a representative sample of the average T.J. Maxx customer, I can think of no reason why I would ever want to set foot in one of their stores again.
Further, in all the national press I saw about the event they never mentioned that the wedding was between two reporters. The newlyweds were Michigan Morning Sun sport reporter Drew Ellis and former reporter Lisa Satayut. I don't know about you, but their stature as media representatives seems relevant to me, mainly because it calls into question whether any of this was genuine. Was this a stunt the local paper cobbled together with the local T.J. Maxx to secure more ad dollars? I'd like to know.
But that aside, I do want to say if the event was indeed genuine I can't blame T.J. Maxx for jumping on the opportunity. But I think the way this whole thing went down is a warning to brands who get involved with things like this. Essentially you are handing the keys to your brand to a person who we know from the beginning has to be a little off-kilter (she wants her wedding day in a shoe department, folks) or may have ulterior motives that have nothing to do with you. Giving them too much voice could be disastrous.
So if you are tempted to allow a similar event in one of your stores, all I'm saying is ask lots of questions and keep control of the message. I now pronounce you brand and brand manager. You may kiss the slingbacks.