The Lowdown: Appliances, Athletes and Apple Slices

News from JC Penney, Molson Canadian, MilkPEP, McDonald's and more

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The Lowdown is Ad Age's weekly look at news nuggets from across the world of marketing, including trends, campaign tidbits, executive comings and goings and more.

JC Penney appliances display
JC Penney appliances display Credit: JC Penney

Consumers will soon be able to buy a washer or dryer at JC Penney again. After a 30-year break, the Plano, Texas-based department store chain will begin selling kitchen and laundry appliances in a test case of 22 stores in the San Diego; Tampa, Fla. and San Antonio, Texas markets on Feb. 1. Each store will feature between 90 and 150 different models. The decision to return to selling such housewares is the chain's way of targeting female buyers, which comprise over 70% of JC Penney's shopper base and are the key appliance buyers, according to the brand's internal research. For the pilot program, JC Penney will localize its marketing, testing broadcast, preprint, out-of-home and digital initiatives to determine the most effective strategy for a national push, explained a spokeswoman. The creative advertising for the campaign will target women. Earlier this week, JC Penney appointed Joe McFarland, a 20-year veteran of Home Depot, EVP of stores.

Molson Canadian has taken its sports marketing to new heights -- like the top of an office building. The beer brand, which is an NHL sponsor, recently built a hockey rink atop a 32-story office tower in Toronto. The rink is exactly half the size of a regulation NHL rink.

In other sports news, the U.S. national milk industry -- which dropped its "Got Milk" tagline nearly two years ago to a make a protein push -- is getting some Olympic help in that endeavor. The Milk Processor Education Program announced this week it has inked a five-year sponsorship deal with the United States Olympic Committee. The national group, known as MilkPEP, will use the sponsorship to support its ongoing "Milk Life" campaign, which touts milk's nutritional benefits, including its protein content. Lisa Baird, USOC's chief marketing officer, said: "Milk is already a staple at the U.S. Olympic Training Centers, and we are thrilled to add milk to our family of official partners as we celebrate the Road to Rio and beyond."

Meanwhile, longtime Olympic sponsor McDonald's said it should hit the mark of serving 2 billion sides of fruit and Go-gurt in Happy Meals during 2016. The restaurant chain has added more fruit and Go-Gurt to its Happy Meals in recent years amid increasing scrutiny of the nutrition profile of fast food, particularly kids meals. McDonald's expects to hit the 2 billion mark this year based on its calculation that it served more than 1.7 billion sides of fruit and Go-GURT from Jan. 2012 to Oct. 2015, with 87% of those being fruit. The announcement coincides with the return of Cuties clementines to the menu as a seasonal option. In 2012, McDonald's began automatically including apple slices in kids' meals. In 2014, it added General Mills' Yoplait Go-Gurt as a choice and Cuties as a winter option.

McChoco Potato
McChoco Potato Credit: McDonald's

McDonald's isn't only making fruit announcements. It caused a bit of a social media stir with the announcement that McDonald's Japan will soon serve McChoco Potato: its fries drizzled with two sauces -- chocolate with cacao flavor and white milk chocolate. The limited-edition snack hits restaurants Jan. 26.

And Morton Salt is going to the dogs. The brand's newest animated video, airing online and in some movie theaters, is not about adding salt to food. Instead, it suggests using a certain salt to melt ice will lead to happy pups.

In this week's executive moves…

The National Football League has tapped former Clinton administration press secretary Joe Lockhart as its new exec VP-communications. Mr. Lockhart joins the league from The Glover Park Group, a Washington, D.C.-based strategic communications and government affairs firm that he co-founded. He replaces Paul Hicks, who in September left the league to join Glover Park.

Tom Corley, a former Kraft Foods Group executive, has joined sales and marketing agency Acosta as chief operating officer. Mr. Corley most recently served as Kraft's exec-VP for sales/foodservice, but departed in the wake of Kraft's merger with Heinz.

Contributing: Adrianne Pasquarelli, E.J. Schultz, Jessica Wohl