If there were ever a shining example of how I describe the brand experience in my book, it's JCPenney, particularly as of late.
If a brand is an experience, and if it's that experience that builds an emotional connection that creates loyalty, and if it's the experience and that loyalty that separates mere products from brands - well then my friends ... JCPenney is a brand.
And if a huge part of marketing is making good, consistent decisions for your brand and your consumers, well then JCPenney is not only a brand ... it's a GREAT brand. Or JCP, as they like to be referred to now (btw, love the new logo)!
Just a short time ago, the brand announced its move to Everyday Low Prices, a business model that they say will be better for their brand and better for their shoppers. It was a bold move that the brand took aggressively, and appears to be rolling it out quite aggressively as well. Just as they said they would.
The brand then announced Ellen DeGeneres as their new spokesperson. Perfect fit, as many would say, for their target audience both demographically and psychographically. All seemed well in the JCP world, until some loud voices with a social media presence kicked in.
Turns out that there are some "moms" out there who object to Ellen as the JCP spokesperson because she's gay. I'm not sure that they ever articulate it very well, other than that she's gay. No surprise - we know Ellen is gay and we know there are still many people out there who don't like gay people. But in this day and age to actually say it out loud (in social media) still feels shocking. Publicly announcing bigotry and hatred will always shock me, doesn't matter who the people are. Especially coming from "moms."
But it was the aftermath that is what makes JCP such a great brand. With very little hoopla or fanfare, the brand said that it was sticking with its decision. No explanation, no over-reaction, no mela-drama. It's just sticking with its decision. And then it did what every great brand should do these days -- let your consumers tell the story.
And unlike recent examples from #ILoveWalgreens or #McDStories, the brand didn't even ask for it.
People came out of the woodwork to say how much they admire JCP and will continue to shop there - or in some cases start to shop there. Facebook pages popped up in sharp contrast to the original one that was just based on hatred. Twitter went on fire.
My favorite Twitter quote: "most moms are too busy for bigotry." Love that!
A bunch of supporters, who started a Twitter campaign and Facebook page, are all going shopping at JCP on Sunday and posting their pictures. It's at #jcpshopin. Love that even more!
This great brand that just made a very serious business model decision now suddenly is propelled into social media spotlight - and acts like an adult. An adult who behaves consistent with its brand character, making good solid decisions along the way. And, btw, treated their consumers with respect and admiration.
Have to admire that in return. Have to go shopping there, on Sunday! I went already, and bought some towels. BTW, Ellen is not such a bad brand herself (but that's another blog post)!
If you have not seen it, here's Ellen's reaction from her show. It's quite moving how she talks about "traditional" values. Had not realized until this moment how "traditional" I myself am!
What's your experience? Jim.
PS - After you shop at JCP (#jcpshopin), join us Sunday night at 7:00pm EST for live tweets about the marketing during the Grammy Awards on Twitter at #GrammyExp (we had a blast during The Super Bowl #SBExp so we want to continue the momentum!). I know they'll be a JCP spot or two!