Is J.C. Penney Going The Burger King Route?

| About: J.C. Penney (JCP)


A July 16 press release shared an interesting marketing strategy.

The strategy reminds me of something Burger King is also doing that seems to be working.

Perhaps it just might work for J.C. Penney too.

The J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) story is a fascinating story to watch. A failing big box retailer with a hot shot CEO giving it everything he has got to turn things around. Whether Mike Ullman succeeds or fails has yet to be seen, but watching him work promises to be exciting either way. Along those lines, a press release from July 16 shared with the market new slogan-style plan that immediately reminded me of what Burger King Worldwide (BKW) is doing too.

The J.C. Penney announcement toward the beginning stated,

"...the launch of a new back-to-school marketing campaign that celebrates self-expression, showing how the perfect fit inspires kids to stand out and feel one-of-a-kind."

J.C. Penney further describes it as,

Customers are invited to visit JCPenney`s back-to-school online hub,, where they can create a personalized emoji, a graphic smiley face, that resembles them. Users can customize their emoji with accessories and hairstyles and post their emoji side-by-side with their "selfie," a self-taken photo, to share with friends as well as on JCPenney`s "Express Yourselfie" online gallery.

In other words it's all about you, you, and you and making the consumer feel unique and empowered. Along these lines the release also said, "everyone is looking for an opportunity to express their individuality, creativity and distinctive style."

The target with this whole campaign is obviously millennials without J.C. Penney coming out and saying it. It's the right target. Take Macy's (NYSE:M) last earnings conference call, for example. The word "millennials" was mentioned 14 times throughout the call as the company is targeting and seeing particular strength and excitement among this group. Just like Macy's, this is an important group for J.C. Penney to target.

What does any of this have to do with Burger King? On May 20, Burger King announced it changed its slogan after four decades from "Have It Your Way" to "Be Your Way." Just like the J.C. Penney's strategy, the focus is on you, millennials, being unique, and empowering the customer who may feel a bit powerless these days in this current uncertain crazy world.

Burger King's goal with the new slogan and marketing is that it "reminds people that no matter who they are, they can order how they want."

In other words it's once again all about you, you, and you and making the consumer feel unique and empowered.

Burger King further stated,

"It's ok to not be perfect. Self-expression is most important and it's our differences that make us individuals instead of robots" and "step out of this world of standardization."

The slogan, attitude, and marketing style by themselves probably won't make J.C. Penney or Burger King rich or poor, but if it is a symptom of corporate culture focused on connecting with millennials, it could mean they are both on the right track. And J.C. Penney may just "be its way" -- and survive and thrive once again.

Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.