'Dear Dreamers': JC Penney Uses Oscars to Launch Emotional Ad Campaign

One of Six Spots From Retailer Airing Around Awards Show

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JC Penney is employing a more emotional series of spots for its massive commitment to the Oscars. A year ago, JC Penney tapped Ellen DeGeneres for a humorous series of spots meant to educate consumers about its new policies and pricing model.

This year, the retailer purchased six spots related to the Oscars broadcast. One spot each aired during the pre-show and red carpet, while four ads aired during the awards show. The spots were themed around the tagline "Yours Truly, JCP."

The anthem spot shows classic American images with the text, "Dear Dreamers, Dear Go-Getters…Dear Supermen, Dear Brave Hearts ... Dear Champions, Dear Angels…Dear America, You deserve to look better. You deserve to live better. That's what we've believed for 100 years. And we will believe for 100 more." Several shorter spots carry the same theme but promote individual lines now available at JC Penney, including Levi's, Cosabella, Pearl by Georgina Chapman and Joe Fresh.

A spokeswoman for JC Penney said the campaign would be ongoing. The spots were created by The Bureau, an agency that has worked with Apple in the past and is now working solely with JC Penney. Since splitting with Saatchi & Saatchi in late 2011 the retailer has worked with a variety of agencies, including Peterson Milla Hooks, Brand Advisors and Mother.

The massive ad buy comes at a tricky time for the retailer, which has been grappling with falling sales, a highly publicized lawsuit involving Macy's and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and consumer confusion over its shifting pricing policies.

Sales have been in a free fall for the last three quarters, and its ability to attract customers interested in exclusive lines like Pearl by Georgina Chapman and Joe Fresh will be key in the coming months.

Last year, four spots showed Ms. DeGeneres going back in time to see whether befuddling return policies and pricing strategies had always been the norm. Those ads ranked among the most effective commercials to roll out during the broadcast, according to Ace Metrix. In one ad, Ms. DeGeneres attempted to return a toga in ancient Rome but was thwarted by her lack of a receipt.

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