J.C. Penney Partners With Disney for 'Cinderella' Push

Retailer Plans Academy Awards Ad

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J.C. Penney is expanding its relationship with Disney in a new partnership to promote the upcoming, live-action "Cinderella" film. The partnership will include a spot from the retailer during the Academy Awards.

The retailer hopes the property will support its efforts to reconnect with consumers, particularly women. "We wanted to make sure we connected to the customer," said Deb Berman, CMO at J.C. Penney. "You want to feel absolutely fabulous.... We think 'Cinderella' is the hyperbole of that. When you have a Cinderella moment, it is on. You look gorgeous from the inside out."

The upcoming "Cinderella" promotion is one of the company's "tentpole" marketing initiatives in 2015, and it represents a "significant investment," a J.C. Penney spokeswoman said.

The retailer spent $923 million on U.S. measured-media in 2013, according to the Ad Age DataCenter.

As part of the push, J.C. Penney will debut a Cinderella-themed spot during the Academy Awards on Feb. 22. The ad shows a woman in everyday situations. Then, she encounters a young girl in a Cinderella costume while she's dressed in a J.C. Penney gown. The spot ends with the line: "bask in your Cinderella moment."

"You can have that Cinderella moment from when you're a little girl to when you're a woman," Ms. Berman said.

As part of the deal, J.C. Penney will have exclusive merchandise from the movie. The retailer is also the film's red carpet sponsor. "Cinderella" will influence merchandising throughout the department store, not just in the Disney Shop, said Ms. Berman. J.C. Penney will play up the Cinderella-look with designs like tulle-accented skirts, princess-inspired nightshirts, gowns and blue slippers.

Other marketing efforts to promote the film include a display of the gown from the movie, a partnership with the non-profit Girls, Inc., deals for Disney Shop shoppers, a Shopkick mobile push and social media support.

Doner created the TV spot and The Marketing Arm assisted with the Shopkick mobile contest, while J.C. Penney's in-house marketing team oversaw the creative for online, direct mail, email and print. EVB/Victors & Spoils will handle social initiatives around the campaign.

Drawing on Disney's brand
J.C. Penney's partnership with Disney has been a bright spot in its efforts to turn around the company. With the new deal, J.C. Penney aims to expand on its success with other Disney-related initiatives like its in-store branded-shops.

"We have stepped into a greater level of partnership," said Ms. Berman, who said the new marketing push is a collaborative effort between the two companies.

J.C. Penney's Disney Shops launched in 2013 as part of the store-within-a-store concept spearheaded by ex-CEO Ron Johnson. The initiative was one of the ousted-executive's more successful strategies. The retailer plans to open 116 new Disney Shops by the 2015 back-to-school season, bringing the number of locations to 680, said CEO Mike Ullman at an analyst meeting. On a conference call, CFO Ed Record called the partnership a "home run" for the kids department, which performed poorly overall during the second quarter of 2014.

J.C. Penney declined to reveal sales figures for the shop ahead of its fourth quarter earnings release later this month, or compare the performance to its other branded-shops like Sephora and Hallmark.

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