I continue to watch the new J.C. Penney campaign, starring Ellen DeGeneres, and feel that it's failing to fully optimize the investment in their spokesperson. The spots are expensively produced but fall flat, failing to tap into DeGeneres' comedic appeal in a way which works. I'm not sure that setting the spots in ancient Rome or a western town help convey the desired messages. DeGeneres tries to salvage the work, and elicits a smile just by playing herself, but this campaign feels over-thought and over-produced.
Another retailer which is missing the mark is Banana Republic. I applaud the tie-in with Mad Men, the hugely successful, buzz-generating series on AMC. However, the male model used in the advertising and point-of-sale force fits a 2012 "pretty boy" look into a 1960's era, slim lapeled and trousered suit. The facial hair and overall look just don't work in trying to bring to life a modern-day Don Draper. This is a case where casting is absolutely critical--and it fails.
Trader Joe's isn't everywhere. The stores are not big. And, the selection is pretty minimal. Yet, TJ's knocks it out of the park every time I visit. The retail environment is clean, the associates are amazingly helpful, and the product is first-rate and different from "normal Joe" grocers. The brand stands for quality and convenience with a strong nod to fresh and eco-friendly. This is a case study of a brand who knows what it wants to be and does it right--every time.