How it came to him: Brainstorming with colleagues
How it's changing his business: Second looks from more consumers
Call it the idea that ate Manhattan. It started while Mike Boylson, chief marketing officer of JC Penney, was chatting with his VP-brand marketing, Michael Cape,who was just off the plane from a trade show in Germany. He'd gotten an idea there: He wanted to create a virtual JC Penney store during Fashion Week in New York's Bryant Park, showcasing Penney's clothing designers and allowing the fashion cognoscenti to browse-and buy-through interactive kiosks. "We knew it smelled right and that there were many ways we could connect it to the brand," Mr. Boylson says. "I said, 'This might be bigger than Bryant Park.' So someone said, 'Well, why not Broadway?"'
The retailer rented 15,000 square feet available at One Times Square. Within weeks it had created a monthlong series of events that made sure all red carpets intersected at JC Penney. Kicking off with a glittery "Equity Fights AIDS" benefit, the parties drew all kinds of star power from Broadway, Hollywood and the fashion business. It generated tremendous excitement and press coverage.
"The biggest idea is always the next one," Mr. Boylson says. "Retail moves so fast, you just have to act, then measure later. If an idea succeeds like this one, great. And if it fails, you don't have time to sit there and worry about it. We just reload."