Tag Archives: Print

JCPenney Gets The Buzz But Misses The Point

Sarah Mahoney might have incorrectly or unfairly categorized JCPenney’s newest ad as pandering to the Right in her recent MediaPost entry.  Whether it is, in fact, the company’s attempt to counter any backlash that they have received from their same-sex marriage ads or not, they might be doing more damage than good – due to the buzz they are generating for the wrong reasons. The prodding of consumers to round-up their purchases to the nearest dollar for charity – with the proceeds going to the USO – is admirable but it doesn’t really do much for JCPenney in its latest push to move to greener pastures in the sales column.  I don’t think it has to do with liberal or conservative, Left or Right, Gay or Straight – as Mahoney suggests (specifically as none of those are mutually exclusive when it comes to charity, military or the USO.)  What it does do is further remove focus from the company’s switch to lower prices across the board.

Already, a head has rolled in just the few short months since JCPenney announced its new direction with always-discounted pricing rather than asking consumers to wait for sales to come. In January, an AP interview with CEO, Ron Johnson, clearly spelled out what their revamp was. In June, their President, Michael Francis – a seasoned marketer – was fired after five months on the job.

Could it be that it was because their lifestyle ads were compelling and welcoming, but missed the point about how you could go into a store any day and find great prices on products from major designers?  Did they not focus enough on their new offering of deep discounts on the first and third Friday of every month?  Most of the buzz I heard was the flak about Ellen DeGeneres being their spokesperson, followed by the image of two mommies in their Mother’s Day ad and then two daddies in the Father’s Day version. From a liberal perspective, it might have had a warming effect.  Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to have a heating effect on sales.

This is by no means a scientific analysis of what people are taking away from those ads, but on a surface review, they just don’t do enough to present JCPenney as a true competitor to its main competition.  They are certainly not the first store to have specific lines made for them (see Missoni for Target) and they are not the only ones to permanently drop their prices (see Falling Prices for Wal-Mart.)  Even when looking at the one ad out there about those Friday sales don’t make their overall strategy clear.

Sadly, it seems that they (JCPenney) are the only ones to have lost that point in well-meaning yet unclear advertising.

A Bold Campaign By A Bold Brand

There are some brands that are of a certain ilk that make you wonder whether they really need to do any marketing at all.  They are the ones that everyone who would ever covet their product knows exactly who they are and can either get their products or just dream about them.  Some, like Tiffany, are forever embedded in the psyche as key parts of movies – or their opulence speaks for itself. Another example is that we don’t see a lot of commercials, banners or other for Bentleys, Ferraris or Lamborghinis.  In these cases, one might even think that the companies would be in trouble if they started doing mass advertising.  Cartier could be considered one such company with a history of selling to royalty, celebrities and the elite.  Granted, we do see advertising for high-end clothing lines and jewelry brands, but they are very specific and not as large-scale as this. With Cartier’s jewelery and designs celebrated in museums, it is commendable that they should launch their new “L’Odyssée de Cartier” campaign as a bold celebration of the brand.

The centerpiece is a three-and-a-half minute film that fantastically evokes the 165 year history of the company.  It uses a central icon of the company’s design, the panther, and really had fun with it. Around that film, they built a site and advertising campaign that retains the exclusive feel that would ordinarily be expressed through private parties or elaborate mailers through its tasteful execution. Expense did not seem to be an object with the elaborate and elegant production and full page color ads in Sunday papers.

The video treatment was not completely out of the ordinary as you can see many product videos that evoke the same whimsy on their YouTube channel. Most everything there is of a longform video nature, but not at this scale. The fact that they did this provided the opportunity to not only promote it more than their previous campaigns and create a source of content that can continue to be re-packaged for many shorter pieces and needs.

They’ve even gone so far as to include bonus features –  a “making of”, discussion of the score and a piece on the panther and its place in the company – in the L’Odyssée site.

By making everything effectively larger than life with all parts, it seems like they really hit the mark by doing mainstream advertising and maintaining the exclusive feel of the brand.

All in, its great to be able to see a well orchestrated execution work so beautifully when a brand mounts a big and bold campaign that stays true to it’s core and invites consumers to join it’s odyssée.

A Case Where Media Spend Is Not All About The Numbers

Flurry, a mobile advertising and analytics firm, just came out with a report exploring the disparities between the amount of time being spent on ad platforms and the amount of money spent on them. They noted that the largest disparity between the two was in Mobile – where 23% of users’ time was spent there with only 1% of U.S. ad dollars.  Comparing that to Print media, where 29% of ad dollars meet only 6% of time is spent, then it would seem that things are off-kilter.  While there could stand to be some shifting upward in Mobile spend percentages, looking to align the percentages of time spent with dollars spent on numbers alone in your media planning could leave you dangling in the wind.

Flurry’s VP of Marketing, Peter Farago stated in the company’s blog post that they “believe the main reason for this disparity (in Mobile) is that the mobile app platform has emerged so rapidly over such a short period of time. …Madison Avenue and brands have yet to adjust to an unprecedented adoption of apps by consumers.” That may be part of the issue, but it misses a number of other key factors:

  • The way in which people interact with the different media platforms is as much a piece of the puzzle as the time they spend using them. We all know that viewers expect a certain form of advertising when they are engaging with TV, Print and even Radio.  When looking at the Web, it seems that there is still not yet full stability in advertising engagements and Mobile is considered to most media planners to still be the Wild West.
  • With the above, some media platforms have standards that are easy to understand and convey to both upper management and clients.
  • While TV has gone through some changes with the advent of DVRs and the ability to skip ads, there is still structure there and the historical arguments come into play.  In the case of Radio and Print, the numbers are dwindling, but advertisers still have a clear idea of the context in which they will be viewed.  And most importantly, they know that there will be a decent opportunity for the ads to be seen or heard by those who are consuming those types of media. in all three of these, there is a higher percentage of ad spend than time spent.
  • Ad spend on Web is closer to alignment of time spent (22%) to ad spend (16%) and that is likely due to time in the marketplace as well as normalization of not only contextual placements but reporting.  That will continue to evolve and shift (e.g. current trend from standard ads to video) and we will most likely see the spend percentages rise above the time percentages in the next year or two.
  • Ultimately, the costs for these media placements are not normalized and cannot be compared as apples to apples. Therefore, the numbers may be “illogically” skewed for some time to come.

Taking the above into consideration, there is still a major consideration for Mobile.  When you figure that most use of mobile is done on Apps and mobile websites that do not offer Mobile-specific advertising options, there would definitely be a disparity in the numbers.  Additionally, as mobile advertising is still relatively new, the media program costs are often heavily discounted to either get in the advertiser’s door or provide proof of concept.  With those offerings, there needs to be strong analytical follow-up to derive stronger (and more costly) programs.  As of now, we’re still too early to be able to do that – even if there was enough real advertising inventory to relate directly to the time spent meter.

The report did point to other interesting facts that could lead to a strong future in mobile media with the strongest one being that Upper Middle Class consumers aged 25 – 34 are the most likely to interact with mobile ads.

There is definitely a future in mobile advertising and the chasm between time spent and ad dollars spent will surely come more closely aligned. The smart bet is on more than just the numbers, but the context. The strongest contextual applications will play out in the coming years and the best option is to be ready to pounce when it arrives to generate the best return on any Mobile media spend investment.

Even The Small Can Make A Big Statement

In this case, small does not describe the people or the cause – just the size of the organization. And the Statement is about the campaign that uses creativity to break through the clutter to ensure that you’re heard.  In the case of Access Israel – an NGO that has been set up to advocate for handicapped accessibility throughout Israel.  Effectively representing 700,00 people (or roughly 10% of the population) a small team of 8 has been making gains to increase accessibility.  Their site explains their challenge thusly:

With four office-workers and four-field workers our organization is a small, efficient, understanding unit. All of the above activity is carried out under the rubric of a Non-Profit organization that receives limited government funds, donations, and fees from consultation services.

Since we know who we are, what we want, and how to achieve this… our fight is one of revisionism. We are trying to change the status-quo and are doing it incrementally—step by step. For us true success means that accessibility will be THE status-quo.

 Other than lobbying, one of their key components is driving Awareness and it seems they have made strong (if not risqué)choices in advertising to ensure that they can make a big statement cost-effectively.

An example of their strong choices is the ad campaign to not only promote the availability of handicapped parking spaces, but also the attempt to keep those who don’t need them out of them.  If you check closely at the sign in front of the space, you’ll see the creative choice that makes the message stand out.  The image detail below along with the copy line, “Its easy to park in a handicap spot, but do try to resist the urge,” represents a pointed wordplay and representation of what you’re effectively doing by taking one of the handicapped spots.

I don’t know how much placement this print ad got or whether there was video play on television, so I don’t know how much of an ultimate impact it had. The organization engaged Geller-Nessis, Publicis to execute the campaign and it was nice to see that the organization was a little edgy in creating awareness.  The execution was simple and to the point and welcomed people to find out more about them.

The small team seems to be making strides by making smart decisions about their creative to allow them to get their clear message to be heard among much larger interests.  They are showing that size doesn’t really matter.