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JCPenney Misses Mark With Advertising

02/01/2013

Screen shot 2013-02-01 at 6.26.56 AMRemember the Sesame Street classic “One of these things is not like the other”?

Seems battered retailer JCPenney has dusted off the idea with an alleged head-to-head comparison of JCP product to that of a mystery brand.

It’s an interesting concept but the execution in this series of TV spots falls flat on its face.

Comparing one brand to another can be a good play, especially if your brand has qualities, features or benefits exceeding those of the benchmark brand.

But the concept is only effective when comparing the quantifiable.

The JCP spots claim their products have the same “cozy”, “swagger”, “hip” or “attitude”. Huh? How’d they measure that? Using the US Swagger Index?

One thing is for certain. Consumers have anything but swagger right now. Confidence among U.S. consumers declined more than forecast in January, reaching the lowest level in more than a year as higher payroll taxes took a bigger bite out of Americans’ paychecks.

The consumer confidence index decreased to 58.6, the weakest since November 2011, from a revised 66.7 in December, figures from the New York-based private research group showed today. The January reading was lower than the most pessimistic forecasts which had a median estimate of 64.

Frankly JCPenney appears to be clueless as to how to right the ship. No sale pricing has evolved back to sale pricing.

One thing is for certain – consumers are not shopping for more cozy or more hip. Consumers want value, quality and performance. There is nothing in this series of spots that speaks to what consumers really want – and that spells trouble for JCPenney.

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