Customer experience and marketing: Lean into the skid sometimes

I have a friend who works in marketing. Even though the normal way we think about marketing involves everything being branded and polished, she says — and I mostly agree — that some of the best marketing “leans into the skid.” What does that mean? Well, your brand probably isn’t perfect. It has flaws and it makes mistakes. So, just like you would in a moment of crisis (think United or Wells Fargo), your marketing can periodically “lean into the skid” and acknowledge some of the flaws.

And, from Europe, we have a good example of that recently.

Begin by watching this video:

This is from TK Maxx. (If you’ve never shopped in London, yes, it’s a subsidiary of TJ Maxx.) As detailed in a post on Customer Think about “celebrating the friction” of customer experience and marketing (i.e. leaning into the skid), some of the key lines in this advertisement include:

“Sure, it might feel a little haphazard in there but where else would you stumble on a designer dress while looking for a frying pan”

“Let’s be honest, it’s not like one of those swanky shops with complimentary lattes. But, who cares.”

“These are just the small prices you pay, to pay the small prices you pay for the big labels in TK Maxx. Got it? Good.”

“Is it unpredictable? Maybe.”

“Is it boring? Never.”

“And, once you get it. You get it.”

“So, why shop there? Because it is ridiculous what you can get at TK Maxx.”

Now stop and think about this.

Much advice regarding customer experience and marketing alike is to create a “friction-less” — i.e. seamless — environment.

But TK Maxx is doing the opposite. They are acknowledging their flaws within marketing and thus, directly to potential customers.

Is that hurting their bottom line?


In fiscal year 2017, they had revenues of $4.36 billion. That was an increase from FY2016.

This approach won’t work for all brands, no. But leaning into the skid (acknowledging the friction) can be a difference-maker for customer experience and marketing teams in some contexts.

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