July 14, 2010, 4:09 PM

Penney’s Back-to-School campaign hits teens from all sides

J.C. Penney’s Back-to-School marketing blitz includes viral video, web, mobile, TV and stores.

Lead Photo

J. C. Penney Co. Inc. has launched a Back-to-School marketing campaign that aims to reach teen shoppers via all of their favorite media. The marketing blitz includes viral video, web, mobile, TV and store-based promotions designed to position the retail chain as a new-found source for cool clothes and accessories.

This year’s campaign combines traditional marketing initiatives with digital, social and mobile efforts, including “haul” videos and virtual, or what Penney terms augmented reality, and mobile ads on Apple Inc.’s iPhones and iTouch devices. Haul videos are homemade videos in which shoppers show and describe for friends and family their latest shopping hauls. J.C. Penney is No. 16 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Apple is No. 4.

“Using an array of innovative interactive and user-generated content, our Back-to-School marketing encourages teens to take control and discover our extensive assortment of exciting styles and brands at affordable prices,” says J.C. Penney executive vice president and chief marketing officer Mike Boylson,.

Penney’s Back-to-School campaign is among the first to plunge into so many online and offline media at once, says Betsy Emery, CEO of Tellus, a web site development and strategy company. “From a brand standpoint this appears to be a substantial effort of trying to drive teens to purchase from J.C. Penney. It looks like they are doing a good job of using segmented content, talking to teens the way they want to be talked to and inviting them to participate more. That seems be something that teens are responding to.”

Penney’s e-commerce site, JCP.com, will feature the hauls using shoppers displaying their Penney’s purchases as part of the campaign, dubbed “New Look. New Year. Who Knew!” Teen girls can also view on the web site the daily Top 10 favorite items voted on by visitors to the Juniors Back-to-School online experience, and create a virtual “styleboard” displaying apparel they like that can be e-mailed to friends.

In addition, JCP.com’s Young Men’s and Children’s product categories will feature a horizontal scroll, enabling users to browse head-to-toe looks.

Penney’s Back-to-School promotion includes Seventeen magazine. Penney will be the exclusive retailer for an augmented reality presentation on Seventeen.com that will simulate its merchandise as it would appear in a real-world environment, enabling shoppers to virtually try on an item, then link to JCP.com for purchase. The application was developed in conjunction with Metaio, a provider of augmented reality technology.

For mobile teens, Penney has created a Back-to-School WAP site, jcpteen.mobi, that includes TV spots and “hauls,” and gives shoppers an opportunity to opt in to receive weekly texts on the latest Back-to-School looks, and upload their own styles, which can be voted on and shared with friends. Penney’s mobile marketing effort to reach consumers through Apple’s new iAd concept features an interactive Back-to-School ad that will appear when iPhone and iPod Touch customers use an app on their devices.

Penney will adapt its Back-to-School TV spot for the Hispanic market, with the spot premiering on Univision, a Spanish-language TV network.

The retailer also has an exclusive sponsorship with Cambio, which operates

Cambio.com, a celebrity fan site featuring popular music stars including the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato, and jointly operated by The Jonas Group, AOL and MGX Lab.  Beginning July 27, teens visiting the site can view the Penney Back-to-School broadcast spot, learn stars’ styles, and enter a contest for a chance to attend a Jonas Brothers concert.

The campaign also will include TV and movie theater promos and national print ads in Teen Vogue, Seventeen and People StyleWatch magazines.

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