JC Penney “Speed Dressing” – Big mistake or Awesome viral?

Just last month, JC Penney, Epoch Films, and Saatchi & Saatchi won a Bronze Lion at Cannes for a provocative, funny, and creative commercial. While this would seem worthy of a celebration, JC Penney was instead livid and forced all those involved to make apologies. Why was JC Penney so angry? The spot had never been approved nor aired on television at all!

There is speculation that the commercial, which depicts two teenagers “speed dressing” in anticipation of parental interruption, was created and submitted by a former employee. JC Penney quickly had the spot de-nominated, forced Epoch to forfeit the award, made everyone involved apologize, and demanded Saatchi to do all it could to remove the copies of the spot on the Internet (which is why you can’t find it on youtube anymore).

But is there more to the story? While it may seem that JC Penney was the victim, there’s a solid chance that this is viral marketing via controversy employed perfectly. With the commercial’s short life on the Internet, JC Penney was on teenagers’ computer screens more than ever before. Instead of being viewed as a strictly conservative (and arguably boring) brand, all of a sudden JC Penney’s image was racy and appealing to teens.

Some say any publicity is good publicity, and perhaps this “bad” publicity was all part of an elaborate and well-planned campaign to draw attention to a brand seldom in the spotlight. If it was…kudos to all involved, you’ve earned it.

Read more and view the ad here (while you can)

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Posted on July 7, 2008, in Marketing, Quick Thoughts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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