Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brilliant...or desperate?

JC Penney is crashing down a path in retail marketing that will either be considered, after results are in, a home run or a colossal failure.

In a presentation yesterday in New York, the CEO and President of JC Penney outlined their planned dramatic changes. These changes will be unveiled to consumers on Wednesday, February 1.

First off, the retailer shared a new logo--a square red box with a blue box and "jcp" in reversed out white in the upper left hand corner. Think of it as a patriotic, American-flag sort of vibe.

Second, JC Penney announced that Ellen DeGeneres will be the new company spokesperson. In addition to DeGeneres, Martha Stewart will have a partnership with the retailer and a new line from designer Nanette Lepore was announced.

Yet, perhaps the biggest change is in the retailer's pricing strategy. This strategy, called "fair and square" pricing, will include everyday, regular prices; monthlong values; and best prices, which will happen on the first and third Fridays of every month. Overall, the pricing shift will trim Penney's promotions from 590 a year to 12 a year.

The dramatic cut in promotions is being teased in new work from Mother which includes the tagline "Enough is Enough." I saw the spot for the first time last night and, honestly, I found it to be on the level of irritant as that of the Target shopper who was that chain's spokesperson in pre-Thanksgiving advertising.

The overall strategy shift--massive in size and scope--will also include merchandising updates to store personality and color palette. Overall, it's a major move for a retailer who has become irrelevant in a land of Target, WalMart and other smaller, successful retail chains.

As has become the trend in marketing these days, the name of that brand called Apple was evoked to explain the wisdom of this move. "Just like Apple, we're going to learn that the best days aren't in the rear-view mirror, they're right down the road," said CEO Ron Johnson. "I believe the department store is the number one opportunity in American retail. And this isn't something I decided last June when I took the job. This is something I decided 10, 15 years ago."


Monday, January 16, 2012

Golden Globe winners and losers

Let's just shoot it straight, shall we--last night's Golden Globes telecast was pretty much a snooze. But, in the public interest, let's break down the true winners and losers from last night.

Winner: Kate Beckinsale. This stunningly beautiful actress picks some questionable acting roles but, wow, was her total look gorgeous last night. She won big time in the looks department.

Loser: Meryl Streep. C'mon--you forget your glasses and use that as the reason for dropping the F-bomb on national television? You've won a few times so that acceptance speech should be second nature and without need of notes, shouldn't it?

Winner: Homeland. Thank goodness the best drama on television did, indeed, win last night.

Loser: Damien Lewis. Really!? How did this guy lose in the best actor category to Kelsey Grammer?

Winner: Modern Family. The best comedy on television won a much-deserved Golden Globe.

Loser: Ricky Gervais. Sometimes funny, this acerbic comedian simply tried too hard last night and came off as flat.

Winner: Sofia Vergara. She looked great and was very, very funny when accepting the award for Modern Family.

Loser: George Clooney. Clooney won for The Descendants but his speech came off a bit too self absorbed. The guy is incredibly handsome and looks the part of true movie star but I found his tone a bit off-putting.

Winner: Selma Hayek. Gorgeous and sexy.

Loser: Chris Tucker. The camera kept finding Tucker in the audience. Tell me, what in the world has that guy been in recently? Nothing!

Winner: Morgan Freeman. The remarks by Sidney Poitier and Helen Mirren, coupled with the clips, made his Lifetime Achievement Award a highlight of the evening.

Loser: Nicole Kidman. In the words of Jonathan Anton on The Today Show, "get out in the sunlight already!"

Winner: Jimmy Fallon. Watching Fallon impersonate Mick Jagger always makes him a "winner."

Loser: Angelina Jolie. Yes, I know, this is heresy--the dress was beautiful but can someone please get Angie a meal (or two?) Please...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday morning coffee

- It's a big week for TV viewership as many shows begin their winter/spring season of new episodes. Alcatraz (FOX) starts tomorrow night, Justified (FX) starts season three on Tuesday night as does season four of Southland (TNT) and American Idol (FOX) begins on Wednesday.

- If you've been wondering "whatever happened to Adam Lambert?," you can catch up with the American Idol star on Tuesday night when he appears on Jay Leno. (And, in full disclosure, the whereabouts of Lambert haven't been keeping me up at night.)

- In the "I can't wait" department, author Tom Wolfe (Bonfire of the Vanities) is reported to have a book coming out in 2012 about Miami and immigration.

- The state of Colorado is usually a state one associates with good health and smart eating habits. Yet, Coloradoans celebrated Cinnamon Roll Day on January 8. Now, I like a good cinnamon roll as much as the next guy but who knew we could have a day dedicated to this delicious treat? Sam Tollison, a 10-year old in Colorado, collected over 100 signatures on a petition to give the snack its own day. Governor John Hickenlooper was so impressed that he agreed to grant this special day and make it into law.

- In the "you can't make this 'stuff' up" category, residents of a Fresno, CA apartment building received quite the surprise recently. A stolen car ended up on the building's roof after the perpetrator/driver, fleeing in foggy conditions, struck a curb, bounced off rocks and a tree stump, went airborne and landed 20 feet off the ground. The car was later removed from the roof by a crane.

- If you're reading this and are a college undergraduate, majoring in architecture, here's a word to the wise--get out! According to a new study by Georgetown University, unemployment for college grads is highest among architecture majors. Why? The researchers cite the collapse of the housing market as the culprit. (Source: New York Times)

- And finally, in this election year, more and more Americans are identifying themselves as independents. 40% of Americans now say they are independents, compared with 31% who say they are Democrats and 27% who say they are Republicans. (Source: Gallup)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tebow dominates social media

Name another pop culture-sports phenomenon, in recent memory, that competes with Tim Tebow's impact on societal conversation. Want proof? Look no further than Tebow-related chatter which has become pervasive across social media.

Bluefin Labs and Ad Age tracked Tebow-related conversations and found that the 2,137,220 comments, during and after last Sunday's Broncos-Steelers game, dwarfed other sports events during 2011. The 2+ million comments were far higher than the 1,809,310 comments during Super Bowl XLV; the 901,238 during World Series Game 6; the 720,668 during game six of the NBA Finals; and the 293,304 during game seven of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals.

An average number of social media comments for an NFL game on CBS is 107,637 during the past season. The average number of social media comments for an NFL wild card game--based on the four games last weekend--is 788,050.

Tebow mania? It's definitely true in the world of social media.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday morning coffee

- In the never-ending category of "no lack of material," we turn once again to the world of business language and the increasing use of the term "perfect storm." This phrase is being used to describe when a series of conditions comes together to create a "perfect storm"--sometimes in a positive way and sometimes in a negative. I would remind my business colleagues who use this term that the origination of the phrase comes from the book and movie of the same name--the story where all but one member of the ship perish in the "perfect storm."

- Singer/songwriter Kenny Loggins turns 64 today. And, for those who of you who only remember Loggins as the voice behind hits like "Danger Zone," there was a time when he was a part of a hit duo, Loggins and Messina. Loggins teamed with Jim Messina, at the beginning of his career, in the early to mid 1970s and together they created hits like "House at Pooh Corner" and "Danny's Song." Messina's roots were with classic, country rock bands Buffalo Springfield and Poco.

- How are those New Year's resolutions coming along for you all? Yeah, I thought so...

- I made the move this week from an Android device to the iPhone 4S. And, while my past two Android wireless phones have been outstanding, there is simply something about the Apple operating system which, as a friend says, "just works." The UI is unmatched and the touchscreen keypad is lights years better than on my last device.

- Here in the ol' cowtown, Southwest Airlines is our primary airline option to go from here to there. And, for those of you who have flown Southwest, you know that they have an employee culture of having fun and creating a unique flight experience for their guests. Personally, I'm not a fan of the singing flight attendant who typically has a song prepared for the aircraft's landing but those I fly with like this little touch of humor versus the normally surly attitudes which seem to be the hallmark of other airlines' attendants.

- Target has split with longtime advertising agency Weiden & Kennedy. Target's former Chief Marketing Officer worked well with W&K before his departure to J.C. Penney, thus the move is not totally surprising.

- Coming up: The premiere of season three of Justified (FX) is January 17. Tune your DVRs now.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Best television of 2011

What were the best TV shows of 2011? You saw the shows I mentioned last week in "Hits, Misses and 'Who Cares' of 2011," but what about none other than The Hollywood Reporter? Let's look at this magazine's "best of" list.


1. Louie (FX)
2. 30 Rock (NBC)
3. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
4. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)
5. The Inbetweeners (BBC America)
6. Archer (FX)
7. Community (NBC)
8. Wilfred (FX)
9. Modern Family (ABC)
10. Raising Hope (FOX)
11. Enlightended (HBO)
12. Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
13. Suburgatory (ABC)
14. The Middle (ABC)
15. Episodes (SHO)


1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
2. Game of Thrones (HBO)
3. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
4. Homeland (SHO)
5. Justified (FX)
6. Boss (Starz)
7. Treme (HBO)
8. The Walking Dead (AMC)
9. Southland (TNT)
10. Friday Night Lights (NBC)
11. Men of A Certain Age (TNT)
12. Lights Out (FX)
13. Sons of Anarchy (FX)
14. Shameless (SHO)