JCPenney Looks To Game To Connect With College Women

JCPenney has strayed from its traditional marketing roots in print and television to connect with college-bound women where they play--online. The casual video game, "Dork Dodge," created by digital marketing company EVB San Francisco, introduces female students to Dorm Life, the retailer's new lifestyle brand for young adults.

The game offers decorating ideas with Dorm Life products. Gamers use hampers, lamps and other household items during game play to gain points or avoid pitfalls.

Amber Justis, EVB senior art director, began work on the project in April with EVB writer Goldy Bardin. The goal: to attract young women between the ages of 17 and 19 who are preparing for college dorm life--a customer segment far removed from traditional 40-and-up JCPenney loyalists.

JCPenney wanted to position the Dorm Life lifestyle brand as a relevant, attractive resource for young adults as they graduate from high school and head off to college, according to Ruby Anik, SVP of brand marketing for JCPenney. "For many of them, this is a first opportunity to define themselves among new college friends, and through decorating their rooms, they can express their personal style and connect with others," she says.



While JCPenney wanted college-bound women to view the company as having relevant products they could rely on during an exciting time in their lives, "most comments we heard from focus groups were, 'Oh yeah, JCPenney. That's where my grandmother shops'," Justis says.

The Dork Dodge game found at taps into human stereotypes students find in college life. Players are asked to choose and name an avatar. The game toggles between video and digital characters. An option also allows players to invite real-life friends into the game through an email option. A link at the end of the game takes the player to JCPenney's Dorm Life page on Facebook.

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