Friday, November 16, 2007

JC Penney ads rock, while sales suck

So here's the latest example of a long-time advertising conundrum: what if the advertising is great, but the product's sales are slumping? That's the case with JC Penney, which has had some great advertising from Saatchi & Saatchi this year, and just released its best ad to date: this exquisite commercial (I admit, it's so good I don't even want to call it that) about a girl who builds a rocket ship to go see Santa. There are many small details that make this ad extraordinary—that the girl would never be cast for a Pottery Barn Kids catalog, that she wears her prettiest party dress when she's getting in her rocket ship to prepare for her meeting with Santa. And then there's the music. Lots of people know I'm a complete curmudgeon when it comes to the use of Beatles tunes in commercials, but this time, I'm, well, changing my tune. The commercial uses the John Lennon tune "Real Love" and it's used so perfectly that it's obvious great pains were taken to choreograph the action to the song, rather than it just being thrown haphazardly into the mix. He might not even have minded its use. But, as for JC Penney's sales, they decreased "dramatically" in September and October according to this story in Mediapost. Whatever the retailer does to fix its woes, I hope it doesn't include firing the ad agency. No company is going to get better advertising than this.


-Annie Libby said...

Brilliant storytelling. That ad is amazing and one I can watch over and over.

Anonymous said...

JC Penney is in a share fight. It is a retail outfit that needs floor traffic to come to the store for
This commercial is a fine, sweet short film that Penney's can write-off as a contribution to the arts.
Now: they need to get people to come in to the store. An effort that they need someone else to do.
Maybe Emil Mogul and partners.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Check out current Business Week magazine (in its new horrible redesign). Page 047 (another irritating affectation).
"'How can it be that our impression of a déclassé American retail institution can be alterted in the space of 60 seconds?' wrote AA reviewer Bob Garfield. "(It's) thanks to one TV commercial.
"When Baglivo (Mary of S&S) next met with the Penney marketing people, they told her they loved the ads. But there was just one problem: The commercials weren't working. The retailer's analysts had concluded that the campaign was doign little to compel shoppers to visit Penney's stores. 'Here I am with a powerful idea' says Baglivo. 'And the Penney guys go crazy with gas prices. It's crazy, right?'"
QUESTION: do you suppose Mr. Garfield overcame his former natural resistance to such an unterklasse experience as Penney's to actually go there and shop?
QUESTION: do you suppose Ms. Baglivo got out of her Platonic/Cartesian world and actually dealt with the reality of Penney's image/retail problem?
In those two Talmudic queries lie the need for Emil Mogul.

Anonymous said...

re: moses

Here's better question: Did the JC Penney folks have absolutely no clue as to the type of work the agency did before hiring them? Why exactly did they choose this agency over someone with a track record of producing Cheez-Whiz and beer commercials?