mcgarrybowen Celebrates Body Positivity for JCPenney with ‘Here I Am’

By Erik Oster 

mcgarrybowen, which was appointed as creative agency of record for JCPenney last October, launched a new online spot for the brand entitled “Here I Am.”

Featuring singer/songwriter Mary Lambert, style blogger and designer Gabi Fresh, writer Jes Baker, designer Ashley Nell Tipton and yoga practitioner Valerie Sagun, the spot celebrates body positivity for women of all body types. “Could my life be better if I were thinner?” Baker asks at the beginning of the spot, answering the question with the line, “No, but it would be better if I wasn’t treated so poorly because I’m not,” which functions as a kind of thesis for the spot. The lengthy ad includes Lambert explaining that a family member discouraged her from pursuing a career in music because of her body type and the other women in the spot adding their own struggles with how others have treated them before they came to accept and celebrate themselves for who they are. 

This kind of approach may seem familiar, as so-called “Femvertising” has taken off in recent years. Dove’s ongoing “Real Beauty” campaign has been mining a similar tactic for years. A recent effort last October from creative content agency Evidently asked girls what they would choose if they could “Change One Thing” to highlight the problems adolescent girls have with self-image and confidence and promote the Dove Self-Esteem Project. Leo Burnett, meanwhile, redefined “Like A Girl” for Always, continuing the approach with “Unstoppable” last year.

The message is a nice one and the approach fits the brand well enough. But the spot just seems to drag on, even by the somewhat loose standards of online ads. Without editing to bring down the runtime, it feels at times like viewers are hearing the same thing repeated, albeit in slightly different ways, throughout the spot, diminishing its impact. Even allowing for the five different women featured in the ad, it seems like it would have been easy enough to shave off a significant chunk of time and still leave enough room for each to get sufficient time onscreen.


Advertising Agency: mcgarrybowen, New York City, USA
Chief Creative Officer: Matthew Bull
Executive Creative Directors: James Cheung, Cliff Skeete
Art Directors: Simon Woodham, Paula Figueroa, Erik Jansen
Copywriters: Danny Wantz, Anna Xiques, Jessica Zalaznick
Director of Content Production/Executive Producer: Paisley McCaffery
Associate Producer: Lauren Lampasi
Managing Director, Integrated Production: Dante Piacenza
Managing Director of Music Production: Jerry Krenach
Executive Music Producer: Jarrett Mason
Music Licensing Supervisor: Kaylyn Keane
Director, Talent Services: Sue Ayson
Business Manager: Marie Sawicki
Account Managing Director: Alaina Lovera
Account Supervisor: Ali Napier
Production Company: Missing Pieces
Director: Tucker Walsh
Editor: Liz Deegan / Missing Pieces
Editor: Steve Bell / Cutters