Ad of the Day: JCPenney

Peterson Milla Hooks brings its poppy visual style to the retailer's big new rebranding effort

JCPenney wants to keep it simple.

The retail giant is out with a string of ads from one of its new agencies, Peterson Milla Hooks, espousing its promise to offer "fair and square" prices (a pun on its new logo) without complicated sales gimmicks. Visually speaking, the spots feel a lot like PMH's work for its last mega-retail client, Target—bright, engaging, playful. But the JCPenney spots clearly home in on the brand's new strategic positioning, illustrating its argument through accessible, mildly humorous scenes.

One new commercial shows a lighthearted, sunny backyard scene. A young girl holds up a hula hoop as a dog in a birthday hat leaps back and forth through it—more or less the only action in the entire 30-second commercial. "No more jumping through hoops," explains the copy. "No coupon clipping. No door busting. Just great prices from the start." Other ads feature a rapid-fire auctioneer soliciting underbids, to make the case for "no more pricing games," and an older sister tricking her younger brother into a bout of dizziness that lays him out flat, for "no more making your head spin."

The spots are sharply detailed and fun to watch, with clear takeaways. They have the added benefit of shedding some light, in retrospect, on Mother's somewhat more abstruse, defiant scream-fest teaser ad (since removed from YouTube) for the brand's big new rollout. Another spot in the new PMH campaign, meanwhile, appears to run a little contrary to the rest of the messaging, complicating things by inviting consumers to come in on the first and third Friday of every month for the "best prices." (Nooooooo!)

The "Fair and Square" spots were all directed by Rocky Morton. The lone ad from a different director, a February-themed piece by Gaysorn Thavat, ends up being the most charming. A montage of amusing winter scenes set to Billie Holiday's "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," it's also the least sales-driven.

CREDITS

Client: JCPenney

Agency: Peterson Milla Hooks, Minneapolis

"Fair and Square" spots

Director: Rocky Morton

Production Company: MJZ

Producer: Donald Taylor

Director of Photography: Sal Totino

Production Designer: Julian Laverdiere

Wardrobe Stylist: Marie Sylvie Deveau

Editor ("Pin the Tail"): Brett Astor, Channel Z

Editor ("Auctioneer," "Hoops"): Jim Stanger, Channel Z

Telecine: Pixel Farm

Colorist: Oscar Oboza

Post: Pixel Farm

Lead Artist: Kurt Angell

Original Music: Brahmstedt White Noise, Minneapolis

"February"

Director: Gaysorn Thavat

Production Company: Grand Large

Producer: Mark Allen

Director of Photography: Tobias Schliessler

Production Designer: Kristen Vallow

Wardrobe Stylist: Jen Rade

Editor: Brett Astor, Channel Z

Telecine: Pixel Farm

Colorist: Oscar Oboza

Post: Pixel Farm

Lead Artist: Tom Jacobsen

Music: Billie Holiday's 1937 recording of Irving Berlin's "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm"