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JCPenney back-to-school effort taps mobile to sell latest looks

July 15, 2010

jcpenney0714-mainJCPenney’s “New Look. New Year. Who Knew!” multichannel back-to-school campaign features ads that will run via Apple’s iAd, mobile coupons, a WAP site for teens and a new iPhone application.

The teen-focused WAP site at brings signature styles and affordable prices to consumers’ fingertips. It includes JCPenney’s back-to-school television spot and lets teens opt-in to receive weekly texts on the latest looks, view styles and even upload their own look, which can be voted on and shared with friends.

“Through our mobile marketing initiatives, we able to reach teens where they are and provide them exciting, media-rich, interactive content that allows them to explore and discover the JCPenney brand,” said Kate Coultas, a spokeswoman at JCPenney, Plano, TX.

JCPenney is one of America’s leading retailers, operating 1,107 department stores throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as one of the largest apparel and home furnishing sites on the Internet,, and the nation’s largest general merchandise catalog business.

The retailer will also be one of a select group of companies to begin marketing to consumers through Apple’s new iAd concept with the launch of an interactive back-to-school ad that will appear when iPhone and iPod touch customers use an application on their device.

Here is the iAd. It features a Style Mixer interactive experience, letting users scrolls and mix-and-match outfit combinations:


When iPhone and iTouch customers open an application (JCPenney is targeting music, entertainment and lifestyle apps), a scrolling JCP Teen banner will appear at the bottom of the screen, inviting the user to interact.

When the user touches the banner a JCPenney fashion photo takes over the entire screen, mimicking a Polaroid photo developing as the application loads.

Once loaded, the iAd will provide an expansive environment for teens to interact and play multiple features including:

o A Style Mixer for scrolling mix & match outfit combinations

o A “Shake-to Shuffle” feature will allow for a surprise outfit combination.  Favorites can be voted on and saved with product details texted back to users for their reference on their trip to the store

o Another feature includes a Style Dial, which will show the user looks by trend (ex. military) or lifestyle (ex. date night)

o Other features include a behind-the-scenes video of the BTS broadcast spot, music downloads and more. Additionally, a store locator feature will offer a geo store location feature

o Users will also be offered the opportunity to download the new JCPTeen iPhone/iPod Touch app, which will immediately download on their device, rather than directing the customer to the iTunes store.

The campaign was created in partnership with agencies Saatchi & Saatchi New York and Razorfish.

The TV and in-cinema aspects of the campaign features students taking over school picture day with their own high-energy fashion shoot as they model the latest head-to-toe looks and styles from JCPenney.

JCPenney’s impromptu fashion shoot theme will continue with national print ads in Teen Vogue, Seventeen and People StyleWatch.

Here is a screen grab of the two-page print advertisement:


All of the print ads will include a special call-to-action, asking readers to text LOOK to 527365. They will receive a text linking them to JCPenney’s back-to-school mobile WAP site. This call to action is new this year.

Additionally, will feature “hauls” – the new viral phenomenon in which teens show off their recent shopping purchases through short product review videos posted online – with videos featuring real teens showcasing their JCPenney shopping finds.

Teen girls can also view JCPenney’s fashion assortment – including the daily Top 10 favorite items voted on by visitors to the juniors back-to-school online experience – and create a virtual styleboard that can be emailed to friends.

In addition,’s Young Men’s and Children’s interactive experiences will feature a horizontal scroll, allowing users to easily browse head-to-toe looks.

The Young Men’s experience will also link visitors to a behind-the-scenes video of JCPenney’s back-to-school broadcast spot, highlighting the season’s must-have trends.

As part of JCPenney’s back-to-school promotion with Seventeen magazine, JCPenney will be the exclusive retailer for its augmented reality experience on, which is part of the Hearst Magazines Digital Media network of sites.

Through the view of a Web cam,’s augmented reality experience will simulate JCPenney merchandise items into a real world environment, allowing users to virtually try on an item, then link to for purchase.

The application was developed in conjunction with Metaio a pioneer in the area of augmented reality technology.

JCPenney-branded digital experiences and display media will be featured on popular teen sites, including an exclusive retail sponsorship with Cambio, which brings teens closer to their favorite celebrities and content through exclusive groundbreaking, original programming.

Beginning July 27, teens visiting the site can view JCPenney’s back-to-school broadcast spot, learn about hot looks from stars and their stylists in the show Cambio Style, and even enter for a chance to attend a Jonas Brothers concert.

Expect a lot of retailers’ campaign for back to school to include mobile marketing elements this year.

Industry experts predict mobile will play a prominent role (see story).

“I believe that a lot of the hurdles have been removed from mobile over the past few years,” said Michael Hirshoren, vice president of sales at Rhythm NewMedia, New York. “The audience and creative opportunities are larger than ever before. 

“I would ask marketers to take a chance, be innovative, experiment and learn,” he said.

Final take
Mobile Commerce Daily’s Giselle Tsirulnik demos JCPenney’s iPhone application:

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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