It’s Hip to Be Square

April 5, 2012

By Barry Garbarino, ANA, senior director of marketing & creative director

It’s hip to be square, well at least that’s what Huey Lewis and the News told us in the late 1980’s and now a 110 year old retailer is telling us the exact same thing! JCPenney recently launched a “new” way of dealing with the myriad of gimmicky sales deals to streamline the way we shop. 2012 will surely be a year for the company to prove it is in this for the long haul (especially Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving!)

It’s quite simple.

They have three kinds of pricing. Basically it goes like this…

1. Every day low prices (Good)

2. A month long discounted price (Better)

3. Two sale dates – First and Third Friday of the month (Best)

And a return policy that has other retailers baffled – any item, anytime, anywhere. So what is my point? The company is looking back at its heritage to a time where retailers treated their customers with respect and courtesy. In fact, James Cash Penney’s first store venture was appropriately named “The Golden Rule Store.” The mid-range retailer is standing by its founding of treating others they way that they would like to be treated themselves.

In addition to this dramatic change for the retailer, they have also introduced a new series of “story-book” hysterical/historical TV/video advertisements featuring Ellen DeGeneres that depict how silly some of the current retail policies that JCPenney’s competitors still hold onto (policies that do NOT treat the customer/consumer with respect or courtesy.) The series of vignettes shows Ellen encountering one consumer issue after another juxtaposed in varies times in history. The spots show how truly ridiculous some of the current industry standard practices are. 

Take a look at the JCPenney spots featuring Ellen: 

Hat Pence No Pennies

50’s Wake-Up

Western Coupons

Squarely Stand by Your (Wo)Man

Recently when an organization entitled One Million Moms harshly attached JCPenney for their choice Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson (and they also accused the retailer of “jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon”) the company stood firmly by their decision.

“This organization doesn’t think I should be the spokesperson because I’m gay. For those of you who are just tuning in for the first time, it’s true. I’m gay,” Ellen joked on her show, Ellen, February 8. “I hope that you were sitting down. I hate to break it to you this way but anyway.”

Following this, Ron Johnson, JCPenney’s chief executive officer, issued a statement on their stance on the protests and their continued support of Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson. “We stand squarely behind Ellen as our spokesperson, because she shares values that we do in our company. Our company was founded 110 year ago on the Golden Rule, which is about treating people fair and square, just like you would like to be treated yourself. And we think Ellen represents the values of our company and the values we share,” said Johnson on CBS This Morning, February 9.

Bravo JCPenney and Ellen DeGeneres. Squarely done…

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