JCPenney Uses Its Oscar Sponsorship To Rebrand


US retailing giant JCPenney is in the midst of a major rebranding programme and it will use its sponsorship of the 2012 Academy Awards to continue this process – with ads particularly focused on its new pricing strategy as well as its Spring range.


Penney, one of the three sponsor pillars of the Academy Awards show (the other two being Hyundai and Coca-Cola), will use its rights to promote its new positioning.


Consumer research by the brand found that its customers felt that trying to figure out what’s on sale when and then waiting for the next sale to buy particular items can be frustrating to consumers so JCPenney is simplifying its approach.


The company is promoting its new strategy of cutting the various different in-store sales it runs simultaneously in favour of just marking down all of its merchandise by 40% so shoppers will no longer have to wait for a sale to get the lowest prices in its stores.


The retailer is introducing three tiers of pricing in permanent markdowns in an anti-sales mentality move. The new pricing philosophy is ‘general everyday low pricing’ known as ‘Fair and Square Pricing’. In addition there will be ‘Monthly Value’ discounts and ‘Best Price’ clearance on the first and third Fridays of the month (which are typically paydays in the USA).


The new campaign has already been trailed in January by a nationwide TV ad called ‘Enough Is Enough’.



TV show host Ellen DeGeneres is fronting the new look and positioning as the brand ambassador. The star began her career in her teens as a JCPenney associate. A decision which has sparked some controversy in the US due to DeGeneres being openly gay.


The move comes with a repositioning commercial and a refreshed brand identity led by a new patriotic brand logo. This reflects the US flag, as well as the ‘Fair and Square’ idea.




This is not the first time in recent years that JCPenney has used the Oscars as the spearhead for a rebranding. Its 2011 Academy Awards marketing introduced a new ‘jcp’ red square logo, while in 2010 it focused on exclusive lines and a loyalty programme.


2012 marks JCPenneys’ 11th consecutive year as the exclusive retail sponsor of the Academy Awards. It is a key platform for the business to reach its customers, especially its female target market.


The Oscars provides an upscale viewing demographic that is 70% women. It is this statistic that has led to some in the media and marketing worlds to call the Oscars ‘The Super Bowl for Women’. Although, the Super Bowl actually gains more than twice as many women in total numbers than the Oscars.


Unlike the Super Bowl, viewers don’t tune in to the Oscars for the ads themselves. However, viewers do tune in to watch the fashion and the media coverage and consumer buzz surrounding clothes, brands and styles. So its importance as an engagement platform for a clothes retailer like Penney’s is high.


Despite not reaching the same level as the Super Bowl. The Oscars is a high-engagement programme, with fans throwing their own parties to watch the arrivals and post event parties, as well as the awards show itself.


Despite the increasingly cluttered awards season landscape – which globally includes the Golden Globes, Emmys, People’s Choice and the BAFTAs, as well as the GRAMMYs and BRITS – The Oscars is traditionally top dog.


But the viewing figures at this year’s GRAMMYs, perhaps boosted by the death of Whitney Houston, certainly comes close to the Academy Awards.


ABC aims to stay ahead with an entire day of Oscar-related content: starting with an Oscar-themed Good Morning America, followed by live coverage of red-carpet arrivals, and closing with a post awards airing of Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Academy Awards.


There is also a raft of digital tie-ins, such as the new Oscar mobile app (powered by Sprint) that features ‘Backstage Cam’, as well as content-rich www.oscar.com website (enhanced with awards history information and interactive features).




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