JC Penney is reinventing itself and plans to spend $1 billion on store upgrades, a new customer strategy and brand proposition. The retailer calls it a once-in-a-century event, brought to life by a new “Make It Count” campaign.
The campaign has a playful double meaning that the company hopes will resonate with its audience of working and diverse families.
“'Make it Count’ is about value and counting your pennies, of course,” says Carl Byrd, vice president of creative and brand synergy. “But it’s also about what matters.”
He tells Marketing Daily the campaign grew from extensive corporate soul-searching, including some strategy work with Yard NYC. That included poring over data and interviewing customers, crystallizing new ways to deepen consumers’ connection with the legacy retailer.
“This is our attempt to reach those people in an even bigger, better way, making fashion that is truly accessible and genuinely rewarding with our credit card program.”
The retailer has been doing many of these things anyway, Byrd says. “But this campaign pulls it together, puts a lens to it and gives it a name.” And while the goal is partially to attract new shoppers, it’s “also to get people who already love us to shop with us more,” he says. “Every time they come in, we want it to be worth the trip.”
The Plano, Texas-based chain is now part of the retail portfolio owned by Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the U.S., and Brookfield Partners Group. The parents plan to spend $1 billion through 2025, refurbishing stores, increasing omnichannel offerings and new point-of-sale systems, and advertising the new brand positioning.
The ads were produced in-house and shot by famed fashion photog Peggy Sirota, using an iPhone. “These are emotional moments, using real families. We’re trying to deepen that connection with people. It feels very intimate and authentic,” says Byrd.
In addition to 60- and 30-second versions of each vignette, there's also a six-second edition.
The creative showcases the company’s vastly expanded beauty offerings and new design-minded fashion lines, including Prabal Gurung’s affordable and size-inclusive dresses, and a collaboration between some of Penney's private-label brands and stylist Jason Bolden.
Ads are running on a variety of media, including TV and digital. The campaign also includes out-of-home ads in malls owned by Simon and a good smattering of print, in titles like People and In Touch.