Post #5: Jcpenney Hits the TARGET with their Marketing Makeover

After 110 years it was time for a makeover! Jcpenney, one of the cornerstones of the U.S. retail market, recently reinvented themselves. Strangely, one of the captains at the helm of their reinvention was the former Chief Marketing Officer at Target, Michael Francis.


While we were asked to comment about the creative strategies at Target, I thought it fitting to comment on the Target’ess like makeover underway at Jcpenney. Especially given how exciting and cutting edge the concepts are, coming out of JCP.

After a quick glimpse at the JCP catalog that hit millions of American homes in late February, it’s clear this re-launch is a game changer. Their new creative strategy, screams IKEA, Target and maybe even a slight hint of  J.Crew. It’s bright, simple and clever. The clean, brilliant images are interwoven with smart, story telling copy. This new refreshing creative approach was even carried through, in the introduction of Ellen DeGeneres, as their new spokesperson.

Even the company name has been simplified, now simply stated as JCP. This overhaul is being marketed as “In Praise of Fresh Air”, in order to clarify that despite their 110 year age; it doesn’t mean they’ve grown stale. This sense of fresh air was described in the “Jcpenney Manifesto” that was published as part of their recent launch.


This sense of fresh air has come to life within the pages of their March catalog, direct mail pieces and in their new online ads. An orange themed portion of their assortment is marketed with clever tag lines, such as “orange you forgetting something” or “speaking mandarin”. The new spring fashion trend of color blocked combos, in new JCP creative speak, is nicknamed “Block Party”.

The JCP revamp did not only touch the creative side of their operations, but also drove a major facelift to their in-store experiences and pricing strategies. The previous borage of coupons, frequent sale events, and various promotional mailers have been sent to their corporate archives as a thing of the JCP past. Now the pricing and sales strategy is simple and tagged as “fair and square”. There are three and only three, types of prices in their new repertoire. The three-tiered pricing structure is labeled in red, white and blue and categorized as every day, monthly value and best price.

With the fresh breeze blowing at JCP, I wonder if any stale air has settled in at the marketing office at Target. Will Target be able to replace the creative genius vacancy, left behind by Michael Francis? Or have the creative winds shifted permanently to JCP?