By: Katherine Abbott

JCPenney, well-known for is successful chain of department stores, has undergone many business restructures over the last couple of years. The company has made various efforts to increase its customer base, while retaining its current customers by rebranding itself. With the help of a new CEO, the business strategy changed to “Every Day” prices, where the prices on items would replace the use of coupons. After sales plummeted, the company decided to make a shift back to a promotional pricing strategy. With decline in business continuing, the company has decided in January 2016 to relaunch in the business of selling major appliances (Wiki, 2015).

JCPenney has undergone many changes and it is important to understand some of the brands history to realize how much JCPenney’s #SocialFail impacted the brand. With so much going on in the company, the brand needed a successful marketing campaign to promote the new brands it was becoming involved with. With the SuperBowl quickly approaching, it was a no-brainer the company would launch a creative marketing campaign to sell Team USA mittens for the Olympics. JCPenney’s idea was clever but its audience on social media, specifically, Twitter, did not think the same (Costill, 2015).

In hopes of selling the mittens, JCPenney had the idea of Tweeting during the
SuperBowl while wearing the FullSizeRendermittens. JCPenney would send out misspelled tweets that would hopefully create positive conversation about the brand (Costill, 2015). The outcome was the complete opposite. The brand successfully got the spotlight at the SuperBowl but for all the wrong reasons. Twitter fans thought that whoever was in charge of JCPenney’s Twitter account was having “too much fun” at the SuperBowl. Fans starting making jokes that whoever was writing the Tweets for the company was intoxicated because of the misspelled words. It was not long before JCPenney figured out that its creative campaign took a turn for the worse (Berman, 2014).

JCPenney’s #TypingWithMittens is a great example of a #Social Fail. The company did get a lot of attention from it’s Twitter audience, which is difficult to do in the 25 million SuperBowl Tweets (Sullivan, 2014). Even other companies began to join in on the fun. Coors Light Tweet said, “@JCPenney We know football goes great with Coors Light, but please tweet responsibly (Heine, 2014).” Although the tweets making fun of JCPenney were humorous, it doesn’t help the fact that the company had made a huge social media blunder. There was a total of 131,000 tweets throughout the game. This included people who were retweeting or tweeting about the brand (Sullivan, 2014). Each of the tweets received close to 20,000 retweets and close to 10,000 likes per tweet (Ruggiero, 2014). JCPenney’s tweet not only devalued the brand but its tweets did not give a good reason to buy a pair of gloves (Picchi, 2014). If only the brand had a more clear and concise message, it may have created conversation in a positive light like some of the other brands.

JCPenney could have made this campaign work if it approached the idea a little differently. I think the brand had tried way too hard. The Tweets were not only misspelled but they came across confused. One Tweet asked if they were at a baseball game (Ruggiero, 2014). If the company would have stuck to a couple typos instead of complete confusion, I think the marketing campaign could have had a chance. JCPenney’s idea was cute and creative but I think the brand took it way too far. It would be a completely different if an employee actually came to work drunk, while trying to create an image for the brand. Now that would make an interesting story. Let this be a lesson, don’t “drink and tweet” or in JCPenney’s case, “Don’t tweet with mittens (Ruggiero, 2014).”

 

References

W. (2015, February). J.C.Penny. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._C._Penney

Costill, A. (2015, May 12). Lessons From These 15 Epic Social Media Fails | SEJ. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://www.searchenginejournal.com/learned-15-epic-social-media-fails/121432/

Berman, J. (2014, February 3). Someone Needs To Tell J.C. Penney It’s Trying Way Too Hard. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/03/jc-penney-drunk-tweet_n_4716708.html

Heine, C. (2014, February). JCPenney Isn’t Drunk Tweeting the Super Bowl-It’s Wearing Mittens. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/jc-penney-isnt-drunk-tweeting-super-bowl-its-wearing-mittens-155437

Picchi, A. (2014, February). J.C. Penney’s Super Bowl tweets backfire. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/jc-penneys-drunk-super-bowl-tweets-backfire/

Ruggiero, R., & Ranasinghe, D. (2014, February 02). JC Penney’s Super Bowl tweeting tactics. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.cnbc.com/2014/02/02/jc-penneys-super-bowl-tweeting-tactics.html

Sullivan, D. (2014, February 02). It’s True: @JCPenney Might Have Won The Super Bowl Buzz. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://marketingland.com/jpc-win-superbowl-72739