Hired or Fired: J.C. Penney’s Apology

The drastic changes in J.C. Penney‘s pricing policy keep on coming. The company has been ping-ponging from a higher base price with more couponing, to a lower base price without couponing, and then back again. Sound confusing? It did for their customers as well.

J.C. Penney’s CEO Ron Johnson was fired last month and, according to some, much of it had to do with him “confusing JC Penney for Apple.” As Dan Newman puts it, “when was the last time you’ve seen an iPad on sale?” The two companies have completely different DNA, and the muddling of J.C. Penney’s brand story created confused and unhappy customers.

Remember Domino’s apology? This is another brutally honest rendition of a brand owning up to its mistakes and simply saying to customers: we’ve changed, come back to us.

Check out J.C. Penney’s “It’s No Secret” ad below:

“Come back to J.C. Penney, we heard you. Now, we’d like to see you.”

Do you think J.C. Penney is on the road to recovery or is the “It’s No Secret” campaign further contributing to the brand’s wavering identity? Let me know below!

Adidas and AT&T Show Support For Boston Bombing Victims

The Boston bombings have awoken a certain strength across our nation that can only arise from tragedy. Every relationship grows stronger after certain battles have been fought together and this one is no exception.

All proceeds from Adidas' Boston Stands As One shirt benefit the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks.

All proceeds from Adidas’ Boston Stands As One shirt benefit the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks.

Social media has proven to be a strong source of support for those connected to Boston with a storm of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts that swept up our feeds. Extra marathons are being set up in Boston’s honor and performances are being dedicated to the victims. There is an overarching sense of community that has taken hold of us and that makes us want to seek out good and the good we can create.

Even brands are getting involved in the support for Boston. According to Adweek, Adidas declared that it will donate all proceeds from the sale of a limited edition T-shirt to The One Fund Boston, to honor victims of the Boston Marathon attacks. Boston Beer Co. will donate all proceeds from the sale of a special brew. John Hancock financial company, Bain Capital, Partner Healthcare and AT&T have all pledged $1 million to the fund.

Photograph by Shannon Stapleton, Reuters Boston Marathon runners (left to right) Lisa Kresky-Griffin, Diane Deigmann and Tammy Snyder stand with their arms around each other at the entrance to Boylston Street, blocked off a day after the two bombs exploded.

Photograph by Shannon Stapleton, Reuters
Boston Marathon runners (left to right) Lisa Kresky-Griffin, Diane Deigmann and Tammy Snyder stand with their arms around each other at the entrance to Boylston Street, blocked off a day after the two bombs exploded.

Ultimately, these brands are writing themselves into one of the strongest stories in the nation right now–the story of loss, solidarity and support.

Hired or Fired: Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Have you seen Dove’s newest commercial for its “Real Beauty” campaign? The campaign has been garnering mixed reviews over what some critics consider a double-sided message and others consider a real message that finally speaks to real women. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” below:

On the one hand, the video has powerful moments that illustrate the stark difference in how women perceive themselves and how others perceive them. It is calling attention to the low self-esteem that many women have and asking them to change that and this commercial is unique in that vein.

On the other hand, the message of the video is contradicting in that Dove is selling products with what Jennifer Pozner of Women in Media & News calls

“its own underlying philosophy: cellulite is unsightly, women’s natural aging process is shameful, and flabby thighs are flawed and must be fixed… oh, so conveniently by Dove’s newest lotion… As Salon.com’s Rebecca Traister put it, the message is ‘love your ass but not the fat on it.’”

Other critics have challenged Dove’s use of the term “Real Beauty.” Starre Vartan of Mother Nature Network says that the message in our culture that is being regurgitated in this ad is simply that girls are not valuable without their beauty.

“Brave, strong, smart? Not enough,” she says. “You have to be beautiful. And ‘beautiful’ means something very specific, and very physical. Essentially every movie and TV show and commercial shows us that, right?”

“I should be more grateful of my natural beauty. It impacts the choices in the friends that we make, the jobs that we apply for, how we treat our children… It impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to our happiness,” says a woman in the ad.

But what exactly does she mean by natural beauty?

In this ad, it seems to represent physical attractiveness. Is that what Dove considers “real beauty” to be? Vartan says, “It doesn’t matter what other merits a woman posses, if she is not conventionally attractive, she is essentially worthless… And my primary problem with this Dove ad is that it’s not really challenging the message like it makes us feel like it is.”

What are your thoughts on the term “Real Beauty?” How do you think the message of the campaign is contributing to Dove’s brand story?