The 1977 JC Penny Catalog

1997 JC Penny catalog Were you born in the 60s or 70s? Then perhaps you are guilty of wearing clothes like these.

Ha Ha! (That’s me laughing at you.)

Johnny Virgil is the insane mastermind behind this hilarity. Started back in January 2005 on a dare from coworkers, Virgil’s funny blog 15 Minute Lunch sadly isn’t all that profitable. In an interview with, he said, “I actually got a check for a hundred bucks after about 2 years.”

However, his entry on the 1977 JC Penny’s catalog turned out to be quite a delicious piece of linkbait.

Linkbait is a controversial method of marketing; some think it’s okay, others, not so much. Basically, linkbait is any method (blog post, blog comment, etc) done to generate a link back to one’s own site. Some social media marketers do this intentionally by tailoring their blog entries to be interesting/catchy/sensational/controversial enough to inspire other bloggers to link to them. Others, like Virgil, did so unintentionally.

He even provides a quick summary on the traffic impact the 1977 JC Penny post had. Most of his traffic came from webmail servers, meaning his entry is now one of those emails that get forwarded around. That’s how I found out about it too.

Most social media marketers aim at writing serious and insightful pieces for linkbait. Virgil’s piece is a great case study on using humor to attract traffic. So what’s that mean for businesses?

  • Write hilarious content; people love funny stuff and will enthusiastically send it to all their friends.
  • Consider an “email this entry” feature to help readers send the entry around; this will help you control the email’s content too.
  • Be prepared for other bloggers who may steal and appropriate your content as their own; include links back to your site.
  • Make sure the content is related to your business in some way; a funny story about rabbits isn’t going to help you sell toner cartridges, for example.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.

4 thoughts on “The 1977 JC Penny Catalog”

  1. @Shelah: Thanks for nice comment! (And oops, sorry it took me so long to reply.)

    I think using humor for linkbait is a great idea. Though you’re probably way more knowledgeable than I – since you’ve been doing it for a long time (a lifetime, in the web world).

    Have you found it useful? Do you see your content all over the Internet, with gratifying links back to your site?

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