Failing to Re-brand an American Brand
July 3, 2012JCPenny’s new “everyday low pricing” policy, similar to Walmart’s, has gotten off to a terrible start. The new marketing campaign, that ditches the hundreds of sales offered throughout the year and instead goes with what is touted as a simpler approach, offering low predictable pricing, has produced a significant drop in sales - nearly $170 million - in the first half of 2012.
It's clear that JCPenny has been recently trying to revamp its marketing strategy. In addition to the sudden exit of its president Michael Francis in only eight months, the company changed its brand logo for the second time in two years to remind the consumers of its American values. What they now call "JCP" also partnered with Ellen Degeneres to make her the spokesperson of the company and has planned to build brand partnerships with Nanette Lepore and Martha Stewart Living. And all this happened in the last six months. Maybe the moniker "Penny's" came off too low end for management, but it sure does bring to mind something instead of the "could be anything to anybody" name of JCP.
Originally, this campaign made JCP look like a serious competitor in the department store market. Unfortunately, as big sales to lure consumers have disappeared , the campaign has actually driven away many of its bargain-driven consumers. To make matters worse, the growth revenues of JCP's competing apparel retailers, such as Kohl's and Macy's, have increased because of this new marketing policy. It even appears that JCP's everyday low prices ended up being higher than its rivals' heavily discounted prices.
JCP has hinted that it will tweak its no-sale policy by offering some specials. Their strategic blunders have led to many corporations re-examining the values of their audiences before implementing sudden marketing strategies. Looking at the current economic environment, companies must determine the consumer base that will be most effected from such dramatic changes in marketing campaigns. Plus, this failure is a shining - more aptly described as tarnished - example of how critical clarity in marketing communications has become. I wonder if they would have seen better results if JCP had kicked off the concept with a "what's this all about" campaign. While it still may have been too tricky to "get" in a 1-second consumer-reaction window, step-by-step simple-to-understand is what's needed to compete in this arena. However, even that may not have been enough to save this giant. Only time will tell - but it's running out fast.
Company Overview: JCPenney or JCP is a publicly-traded company with more than 11,000 department stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico; most are located in shopping malls. Providing middle-of-the-road merchandise, JCPenney has been a popular destination for finding affordable items without the top brand names attached, developing many of their own brands.
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June 21, 2012Despite the increasing doubts about the social media sector in the wake of Facebook’s shaky IPO, more companies are turning towards using Twitter’s hashtag in their marketing campaigns to make advertisements more “personal” to viewers. For example, one short NASCAR ad showed driver Brad Keselowski in his car taking a photo of something with a tagline “see what he sees”, encouraging the viewers find out for themselves by visiting Twitter.com/#Nascar. Using hashtags in advertisements allows the public to get involved and discover people who share the same idea about the product.
This merging of television and social media has left us wondering about the next hybrid form of advertisement. Using only one form of communication to grab the attention of the audience is no longer the norm. Integration of traditional and instant media? It’s something that we can look forward to.
Twitter, officially, is “a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news.” Even the name itself is self-explanatory; “twitter” is defined as short burst of information or birds chirping. Once a small social-networking site in San Francisco, Twitter has become one of the largest competitors in the media industry. Launched in 2006, Twitter currently has 140 million active users that collectively push 400 million Tweets a day.
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Social Trends, National Events Inspire Color Palettes
May 30, 2012
Color has played an important part in U.S. history. Often the popular colors that emerge during certain time periods are keys to understanding the complex moods of a generation. Just thinking back to a high school U.S. History class, distinctive color palettes truly belong in certain decades. The avocado-colored appliances of the ‘70s? Black and neon grunge of the ‘80s? Just as we see trends in advertising, these color trends are hugely significant in demonstrating the mood of the time.
A new book entitled PANTONE The 20thCentury in Color by Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker explores American history in this inventive way, through color. In a recent Tone by Pantone interview, the authors discussed what they discovered when exploring color palettes decade by decade.
There were fascinating parallels, the authors found, between social trends, events and conditions of the day. An example they provided was the dichotomy of color trends that emerged during the Great Depression. On one end they found vibrant, Wizard of Oz-esque colors they described as “amusing colors of Technicolor” and on the opposite end were thoughtful, demure and serious palettes expressed in advertisements and even Hollywood fashions of the day. While one presents an optimistic, “things will get better” attitude, the other expresses the inherent moodiness and often more realistic seriousness reflecting Depression-era hardships.
During World War II and similarly post-9/11, we saw an increase in patriotic red, white and blue. It seems as though color can influence mood just as much as events can inspire color trends. It seems appropriate that as we climb further out of the recession, Pantone named “Tangerine Tango” as the color of the year for 2012. This bright, bold color brings an optimistic, happy feel and is described as providing “the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.” As we enter the early 2010s, the question then becomes, what will be the main color trends for this decade?
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Are You B!tching?
April 27, 2012
Shakespeare said it best when he penned Juliet’s famed line, “What’s in a name?” But could it be possible that calling a rose by another name does make it lose its sweetness? What if instead that which we call a rose was named a bitch (excuse my “French”!)?
ABC has two new primetime comedies with rather risqué titles. Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 airing on Wednesdays and Sunday night’s comedy GCB (based off the book Good Christian Bitches) both hint dangerously at the big bad “B” word. So what implications if any does this have? A recent Broadcasting & Cable article explored this question and found a mixed bag of both concern and nonchalance.
The biggest problem ABC affiliates find with these risqué titles is that when people are upset with the network’s programming, they often take it out on the regional affiliates. Imagine being mad at the nice lady working at the Wal-Mart register because you disapprove of Wal-Mart’s corporate policies. But even in these instances, the pushback on the names has been minimal. GCB’s “in development” title was originally the full Good Christian Bitches. They later switched it to Good Christian Belles and finally what we know and love today, GCB. It is interesting to note, that while the show is controversial on its own, as tackling religion and comedy must be done delicately, after ABC made the final name change, the flood of angry viewers greatly lessened.
The second issue that arises when a show has a controversial title or content is that advertisers may pull out or ask not to air during the offending show’s timeslot. As both of these shows are new, it is difficult to determine if an advertiser’s request for one of the shows to be on the “not preferred list” is due to it simply being new and therefore a rating risk or because of the controversial names.
So really, what is in a name? A name with bitch or a similar naughty word does standout. It’s memorable and at the moment, rare. But it definitely will throw off a fair amount of people. But that’s what target audience research is all about. Don’t Trust the B---- is most-likely targeting 20- and 30-somethings who could care less about the title. At the end of the day, when choosing a name, the most important step is to know your audience and write for them.
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May 16, 2012Interesting analysis, Tiffany. I'm a 40-something language lover who bristles at vulgar words. My vulgar word list includes b**ch and the phrase I grew to hate last decade: "that s**ks!" With so many more creative ways to make a point and get attention, why risk offending any part of your potential audience? Maybe teens and 20-somethings won't bat an eye, but I surely won't patronize a business that seems disrespectful to me. As you say - know your audience ... and set a high standard.