Multi-platinum country rock act Rascal Flatts is working with JCPenney for a broad marketing and promotional deal, which includes in-store promotion, tour support, merch and TV ads.
The deal kicks off with the April 7 release of the band's new album "Unstoppable" and, according to Billboard.biz, will continue for at least two years, with an option to extend it for more. The deal ties together Rascal Flatts with JCPenney's American Living range of clothes and other household items, which, when launched last year in conjunction with Ralph Lauren, was billed as the biggest merchandising launch in the department store's 105-year history. The original campaign featured a beautiful spot set to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' "Killing the Blues," which we dubbed one of the year's best ad songs.
This partnership is a continuation of JCPenney's well-executed -- and well-timed -- return to its roots as a retailer serving Middle America with value-priced goods. as SFS pointed out last fall, the appeal of country artists has been growing as the recession has been biting harder, and the country music audience has remained slap-bang in the middle of America, claiming nearly 55% of women and 45% of men.
This partnership seems to hit the spot not only for JCPenney, but also for Rascal Flatts, whose co-manager Doug Nichols told Billboard, "We feel that JCPenney is a partner that can grow our brand and we fully intend to help them grow their brand." About this time last year, the Rascal Flatts was promoting the new Rubix Cube.
The band wrote a track, "American Living," which will serve as the soundtrack for the first TV commercial and will be available on a special version of the "Unstoppable" CD sold only at JCPenney stores. The net proceeds from the sale of the album will be going to JCPenney Afterschool, which provides children in need with access to after-school programs.
JCPenney will also follow band members Jay DeMarcus, Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney on tour as they wear the clothing on-stage, and their TV spot and behind-the-scenes footage will run on two large screens during concerts. Fans will be able to purchase American Living-branded tour merch, and the band's 18 tour buses will be splashed with the brand.
All in all, a deep collaboration that hits the spot on a number of counts: It's a good brand fit between the retailer and the act, the band gets great exposure from the collaboration, JC Penney gets a totally relevant multi-platform integrated endorsement from a band that mirrors its values, and, most importantly, fans/consumers get a stack of added-value content, merchandise and connections.