j.c. penney

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According to Stuart Elliott, the advertising columnist for The New York Times, J. C. Penny is launching a new clothing and home furnishings line called American Living. Using product designs by Ralph Lauren, whose name and sub-brands will not be associated with the new brand, the American Living launch will look and feel like Polo ads and be shot by Bruce Weber the photographer who has established Ralph Lauren’s consumer face.

This approach is so rear view mirror. Rear view mirror planning looks at things that have worked in the past and simply repackages them. Penny is not looking into the future with this approach and, frankly, neither is Ralph Lauren whose brands should take a hit due to the closeness of this new campaign. Brand dilution will occur.  
And the name “American Living,” could it be a more predictable pander? It’s straight out of the Lauren playbook, which if you ask me is beginning to get a little old. If Bruce Weber gets hit by a mattress truck (God forbid) both brands will be in serious shape. J.C. Penny is doing the right thing here, but they are looking through the rear window instead of the windshield. Their new customers are younger and out in front….waiting for something new. 

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Back in February I wrote about J.C. Penney and Saatchi & Saatchi’s plans to launch a new branding idea — Every Day Matters – to replace the tired “It’s all inside.” I blogged glowingly (http://spoppe.livejournal.com/6146.html) in anticipation of the execution. Well, it seems the client and agency have delivered.
Penney’s CMO Mike Boylston sounds like a man with some sand. He’s opted to go against the grain and do image rather than product advertising; pushing to rebuild the Penney’s brand. Everybody knows what Penny’s sells, consumers don’t need to see the products. The new advertising addresses the end-benefit customers experience when shopping at Penny’s — having a great day. It uses a one-day-at-a-time approach to building a good life. An idea that both aspires and inspires. 
The work doesn’t tell you outright to go to the store and buy something that will brighten your day, that would be heavy handed.  It focuses on the results of shopping. Through wonderful story-telling — still the most compelling means of selling — the campaign puts consumers in the right frame of mind to purchase. And while those consumers are in that frame of mind, they will gravitate toward J.C. Penney.
In all deference to Saatchi’s Kevin Roberts and his “lovemarks,” this is just a good strategy, a better idea, and fine execution. 

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J.C. Penny’s idea.

I’ve never been a fan of Penny’s though I certainly know the store and have shopped there.
The Saatchis are launching a new campaign around the idea “Every Day Matters,” a welcome change from the old effort “It’s all inside.” “It’s all inside” was not an idea, it was a tagline. The only way if could have been an idea was as a consolidation or a one stop shop strategy, and that’s no way to build a brand. Where’s the aspiration? Where’s the consumer? If there was a double meaning in the line, a la it’s all inside the human spirit, I thing DDB fell short. The musical device build to present the line was a keeper, I will say, but that’s it.
“Every day matters” is own-able and deliverable. Most important, it is an architecture for an ongoing, meaningful, consumer-focused story. Let’s hope the Saatchi’s can deliver. 

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