J. C. Penney, whichhas been the exclusive retail advertiser for the Academy Awards telecast every year since 2001, ran six spots during ABC’s 2014 broadcast all promoting its new Spring lines and featuring the brand’s new tagline ‘When it fits, you feel it’.
This new tagline aims to celebrate the emotion that comes from finding the perfect fit and underscore the retailer’s commitment to offer the sizes, brands, styles and prices that fit the ‘real life needs’ of customers.
For its 13th year as the official retail sponsor of the Oscars, the clothing business introduced a set of new creative during the pre-show, red carpet walk and awards show broadcast segments.
The spots focus on a variety of women – in age, ethnicity, body type and size – all showcasing products from the new 2014 J.C.Penney spring collection.
The spots, which were created by Doner and were filmed almost in a documentary style, continues the new approach and marketing direction the company hinted at with its ‘Rise’ spot that rolled out for the Winter Olympics.
In a handy slice of show synergy, J.C Penney spokesperson and ad frontwoman Ellen DeGeneres was this year’s Oscars host and while the comedian and talk show host doesn’t front any of this year’s spots during the awards broadcast, the retailer did leverage her role by running ad integrations around ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ in the lead up to the Oscars ceremony.
Because the event is so often watched live, J.C.Penney marketers believe that ‘second screen’ is a key part of the marketing mix and thus leveraged its social media and e-commerce options.
Twitter, which was awash with brand-generated tweets through the Academy Awards telecast, was a key platform for J.C.Penney which aimed to cut through the cyber clutter with its very own award nominations.
The retailer used Twitter to recognise ‘supporting, supporting’ actors from this year’s nominated films by giving these little known actors – including the border agent in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, the voice of the Russian space station captain in ‘Gravity’ and the Navy medic in ‘Captain Phillips’ – the chance to present their very own real time Oscar acceptance speeches on Vine.
The retailer then choose which videos to feature in real time based on which films and which actors won on Oscar night.
Thus, for example, when Jared Leto won for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, J.C.Penney posted a vine video from the Doctor who appeared in the movie.
The social media strand of the Oscars’ activity follows its much discussed and fairly innovative Super Bowl social stunt when it shot out typo filled tweeted during the first half, attracted real time mocking criticism from other advertiser, and then revealed it had been ‘tweeting with mittens on’ as part of its Winter Olympic promotion for its Team USA gloves.
This social stunt saw the retailer attract around 150,000 brand mentions and generate millions of media impressions, plus it added a further 10,000 new Twitter followers.
Sales of the mittens nearly doubled in the week following the Super Bowl.
The Academy Awards has long been an important property for the retailer.
Indeed, in the last five years it is reported that J.C. Penney has spent around $50m on Oscars marketing as it seeks to engage the telecast’s 40 million viewers – especially the 60% women watchers.
Little wonder some marketers have labelled it ‘The Super Bowl for women’.
Its consistent leveraging of The Oscars is one of the brands few recent marketing consistencies.
Indeed, this is the latest of several recent refreshed approaches from J.C.Penney.
Since former Apple senior executive Ron Johnson became CEO in 2011, the retailer’s creative style and marketing messages have chopped and changed several times.
From employing DeGeneres to trumpet its decision to abandon sales and promotions for ‘fair and square pricing’, to rolling back on this approach with an ad apology of sorts, followed by a return to steep discounting, to last year’s ‘Dear America’ Oscars campaign (see previous case study) – a lack of consistency has been the brand’s only consistent pillar.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Website