The Endless Scroll Of The CVS Receipts
The Endless Scroll Of The CVS Receipts

"This is the receipt CVS gave me for buying two magazines." -- @fatturnip

The Endless Scroll Of The CVS Receipts

"I got a box of cereal and tissues at CVS and the receipt was almost as tall as I am." -- @KerithBurke

The Endless Scroll Of The CVS Receipts

"So excited to finally be down to my goal waist of 1/2 a CVS receipt!!" -- @J2thaJOY

The Endless Scroll Of The CVS Receipts

"Dear CVS, after purchasing 2 things why is receipt 4'6''?" -- @Alex_Curry

The Endless Scroll Of The CVS Receipts

"My cvs receipt is only 1ft shorter than me." -- @Silentphilm

The Endless Scroll Of The CVS Receipts

"This morning's [CVS] receipt spans almost 45 inches. Smaller coupons, please." -- @robpegoraro

The Endless Scroll Of The CVS Receipts

"Went to CVS to just get some peanut butter, and I got a 5 foot receipt for it." -- @Mattcusson

The Endless Scroll Of The CVS Receipts

"Considering all I bought were cough drops, this CVS receipt is a bit much." -- @TravisSBN

CVS's Insanely Long Sales Receipts Are A Twitter Meme—And A Golden Branding Opportunity

You bought one travel-size toothpaste at CVS and got a 5-foot receipt in return. Shoppers have taken to Twitter to poke fun, with humorous results—but so far, the pharmacy giant is missing its chance to leverage the lolz.

Despite the weird pop-culture fascination with Extreme Couponing, there is such a thing as too much coupon, and CVS Pharmacy is likely to hear about it soon. Using Twitter and Instagram, consumers around the country have begun collecting, documenting, and subsequently poking fun at the human-length receipts they’ve been receiving at the pharmacy’s checkout counters.

Want to witness an Internet meme on the verge of explosion? A simple search of "CVS receipts" on Twitter turns up hourly tweets of exasperation at the lengthy rolls of paper accompanying meager in-store purchases. Pictures and videos of people holding floor-grazing scrolls of printed coupons abound. A “CVS Receipt” parody Twitter account has even been established.

Here’s just a sampling of the jokes: “Fun fact: the average CVS receipt, laid flat, is longer than all but five U.S. interstate freeways.” (@johnmoz). “Never tell the cashier at CVS that you want the receipt with you or they wrap you up in it like a mummy.” (@michaeljhudson). And this image pretty much speaks for itself.

Yes, the nationwide pharmacy is potentially on the verge of becoming the butt of an all-too-accessible and unflattering meme. But instead of calling in the PR crisis team, or chopping those receipts down and cutting the meme—and consumer fun—short, I suggest another approach entirely.

CVS ought to seize the content marketing opportunity this snafu affords its brand. Taking the high (and much more fun) road will score the company some free publicity with a minimal amount of legwork.

Other brands pay top dollar for the same kind of user-generated content that CVS currently has at its disposal. The nationwide pharmacy would be wise to sponsor a compilation of a few choice receipts: A Tumblr of some of the most audaciously long receipts, a video poised for virality incorporating homemade Instagram clips (might I suggest the Star Wars theme song to accompany this great Instavideo?), or a branded Pinterest board of the most hilariously lengthy receipts.

Of course, sponsoring any project of this ilk ought to serve as catalyst for a company-wide environmental initiative wherein participants can recycle their receipts and sign up for a new digital-based savings program.

The result? More brand awareness, increased public corporate responsibility, and a way to co-opt organic user-generated content as part of a creative marketing strategy. But the best part is: partaking in a project like this shows that CVS is actively listening to its consumers. That kind of direct engagement goes a long way in establishing and maintaining brand loyalty.

Thus far, the receipt-shaming is mostly lighthearted and in good fun. When asked, the anonymous founder of the @CVS_Receipts quipped, “My CVS is on Coolidge Ct. in Tallahassee, FL, and it has great employees.” As CVS already knows well: That kind of feedback—despite the scorned savings-overkill of its receipts—is priceless.

In the Internet age, branding fails aren’t just possible, they’re inevitable. With instant access to immediate audiences, online ire can do significant brand damage in the amount of time it takes consumers to choose an Instagram filter.

So when patrons launch grassroot memes at the expense of brands, companies ought to leverage the lolz, be confident enough to poke fun at themselves, and transform digital mockery into serious brand loyalty. With a few smart moves, and a little bit of humor, CVS Pharmacy could be at the forefront of a very impressive—and better yet, successful—marketing movement.

Katie Manderfield is a senior editor at Group SJR and editor of Unfiltered Quarterly. Matthew Mirandi is a Senior Director of Audience Development at Group SJR. Group SJR is a digital consultancy specializing in insights, content creation, curation and audience development. SJR works with the world's leading corporations, organizations and institutions to shape and share their unique knowledge through custom content strategies.

[Image: Flickr user Harris Walker]

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21 Comments

  • Damian Davila

    Yes, the receipts can be ridiculous. The savings are worth it. This is one of the few places that you can just combine as many receipts as you want. I have combined up to 5 on a purchase. 
    I saw that one of the Twitter pics had $6 dollars in Cash Back Rewards, which are not coupons, they are actually same as cash and require no minimum spend. If you don't like getting $6 back, send that to me, I'll pay the postage.

  • Ashley

    Hah! I almost wish I had still been working for the company when this meme came out, just to be in on the way they would have wanted us to handle it. When I first started working for the company 14 years ago the coupons were in the actual ads, which makes more sense. I never liked the direction the company started going in with extra care cards, 6 foot long receipts, etc. Haven't stepped foot in a CVS since quitting a year ago either because of the ridiculousness, and how I know a lot of employees get treated there.

  • Brigitte Moran

    CVS is getting a bunch of free publicity from this, as the article suggests. Though I agree that the length of the receipt is ABSURD, CVS should be slammed for being so wasteful, not hailed for giving us another stupid thing to incessantly tweet, facebook, instagram, etc. about. 

  • Dyzee12

    Receipts on steroids...maybe just lower the prices?? Save time, energy and paper...

  • Graham Radetsky

    its much easier to go to a store that just has reasonable prices in stead of jumping through hoops to make up the diference. Looking for an ocean state job lots or actual supermarket can save you a lot more money than cvs ever could.

  • Kristen Risley

    I've started a Facebook page to chronicle this ridiculous too! It's called My CVS receipt is taller than me!  Hope you'll all come and post your pictures there too!
     

  • Joshua Epn

    Apologies for the typos due to rush, should have been BPA, not BPH, perhaps the moderator is able to correct that.  Thank you.  

  • Joshua Martin

    Original comment, which was delayed due to inclusion of website link the first time:  I hope and am optimistic that CVS can be more creative than encouraging wastefulness.  The undertone of the fun is that people think the practice is very wasteful and silly, so I don't think continuing the practice helps.  Its not just Twitter, via word of mouth people are talking about this too.  People should also be concerned about the BPA (hormone disrupter) that is commonly coating receipt paper and gets all over your hands.  We be happy to partner with CVS on a creative adjustment to its receipts to reduce waste and toxic exposure and also communicating that to customers.  Many CVS branded paper products have recycled content and so I know they have concerns about these questions. See our non-profit organization the Environmental Paper Network.  

  • Joshua Martin

    I hope and am optimistic that CVS can be more creative that encouraging wastefulness.  The undertone of the fun is that people think the practice is very wasteful and silly, so I don't think continuing the practice helps.  Its not just Twitter, via word of mouth people are talking about this too.  People should also be concerned about the BPH (hormone disrupter) that is commonly coating receipt paper and gets all over your hands.  We be happy to partner with CVS on a creative adjustment to its receipts to reduce waste and toxic exposure and also communicating that to customers.  Many CVS branded paper products have recycled content and so I know they have concerns about these questions. See our non-profit organization at environmentalpaper.org

  • Lifeguardrph

    Not funny: Receipts are full of BPA. 95% absorption through skin. Hormone disruptor. Man boobs. Breast cance? Pity the CVS cashier who touches them/absorbs them all day long.

  • bamcintyre

    It may be 'funny' to you, but I have saved thousands of dollars with my CVS coupons and receipts.  If you don't want the coupons, feel free to send 'em my way.

  • Amelia

    I'm right with you BA. Our limited budget goes far at CVS. They are my go-to store for all drug store items--the stores are clean and the personnel is friendly. I never leave the store with a long receipt because I turn around and use the Extra Care Bucks on the receipt right then. The rest of you can laugh, but I walk out of there with stuff my family uses on a constant basis--a significant amount of which ends up being free.

  • Zexks

     Why don't they just reduce the prices instead of printing such massive rolls. I have to wonder if they'd actually save money by not having to use so much paper, vs what they would lose if they just reduced the price of everything with a coupon.

  • Jimfrank

    That's so awesome man, I've saved thousands by not shopping at a full retail convenience store...