The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: J.C. Penney vs. Kohl’s

Discussion
Source: Kohl's - "Give A Little More: The Doll"
Nov 22, 2016
George Anderson

RetailWire readers were not thrilled by the first two commercials — from Kmart and Walmart — to kick off this year’s Christmas Commercial Challenge. Hopefully, this week’s pairing of spots from J.C. Penney and Kohl’s will be found to be a bit more inspiring.

The Penney spot — “Holiday Surprises: Flying Again” — is set up as a classic tale with a modern technological twist. Whether it finds the right balance between tugging at the heartstrings of viewers and making them laugh remains to be seen. The same is true of a its pitch for consumers to think of Penney as a place to buy a product more typically purchased in channels outside of department stores.

Kohl’s commercial — “Give a Little More: The Doll” — involves people and animated characters looking out for each other in a time of giving. Here too, the chain promotes itself as a destination for a product category more likely to be purchased at a mass merchant, toy store or shopping destination than Kohl’s.

PLEASE WATCH THE ADS AND VOTE IN THE INSTANT POLL TO THE RIGHT.


“Holiday Surprises: Flying Again”


“Give a Little More: The Doll”

What is your critique of J.C. Penney’s “Flying Again” and Kohl’s “The Doll” commercials? Which do you think does a better job of connecting with each company’s core customers while reaching out to new shoppers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The Kohl’s ad does a better job of connecting to its core customers."
"Christmas is for kids IMO. If I were going to give a flight gift to pops, I’d do that anytime and probably with Delta. "
"There are simply too many conflicting messages. What is the real point?"

Join the Discussion!

17 Comments on "The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: J.C. Penney vs. Kohl’s"


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Max Goldberg
Guest

As with the last commercial challenge, I’m not a big fan of either spot. Neither feels real or genuine. If I had to choose one, Kohl’s would be the winner.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

I thought the point of the Kohl’s commercial was to be kind and helpful to others. For that reason I give the edge to Kohl’s. However I did not see the tie-in with the tag line to “Give a Little More.” I could not figure out the point of the J.C. Penney ad — to give more, to give to people in senior citizen homes, to give tech gifts to old people? “Giving more” is too self-serving to be an effective ad for either company.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Christmas is for kids IMO. If I were going to give a flight gift to pops, I’d do that anytime and probably with Delta. Besides, I think my gramps would throw that VR rig back at me! Kohl’s has got it this week.

Tom Redd
Guest

Max! “Flying Again” from J.C. Penney is a quick example of how you can make technology made for Millennials appeal even beyond Baby Boomers.

Just a nice, make-them-smile add for Kohl’s and one that helps shoppers know that Kohl’s is more than just clothes. Good work, Kohl’s marketing!

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

Well, we are getting a little better. Not much, but a little. I prefer the J.C. Penney ad for the reminder it gives us that there are those we need to remember who may not be on our list. It took me back a few years to the time when it was my mother in what I am assuming here is an assisted living facility.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

I think the J.C. Penney ad is a bit heavy on the heartstring-tugging and light on selling product — although I suppose that VR headsets will be Black Friday doorbusters this weekend. The Kohl’s ad says “holiday spirit” more clearly, and who knew they sold American Girl dolls? We do now.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

The Kohl’s ad does a better job of connecting to its core customers. It doesn’t hurt to have its customers know that Kohl’s is selling American Girl dolls. However it’s still not a great idea for American Girl dolls, but that’s another post.

The J.C. Penney ad reminds me why J.C. Penney continues to struggle.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Put me in the “less than impressed with both” camp. If J.C. Penney is targeting its core customer this should be a big hit with the nursing home set. The awkward grab at the end of the Kohl’s spot sort of creeped me out. I suppose the underlying messages — don’t forget the elderly and go out of your way to be kind — are strong, but they are also generic. Not a fan.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust
Mohamed Amer
Independent Board Member, Investor and Startup Advisor
3 years 2 months ago

I don’t know who each of these retailers consider to be their core customers anymore, but the Kohl’s commercial certainly hit the spot in the context of gift buying during the holidays.

The J.C. Penney commercial was less about the holidays (although there were several cues) and more about bridging generations and emotional connections. It effectively used memories to tell a story with a twist — rather than dwelling on the past, it takes one to new places and unexpected possibilities. It’s a clever storytelling technique and is well executed with subtle Christmas references.

From a surprise factor, the Kohl’s product play makes sense and does not stretch one’s perception of that store’s assortment. However, to associate a virtual reality headset with J.C. Penney is a big surprise and invites one to visit the store (or website) to re-discover the brand.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

I did like the J.C. Penney ad, however I would never think of them for VR. Yes I’m sure that’s what they were after but, and that’s a big but, playing to the audience who knows they are your audience is important this time of year — or you’re going to have lots of merchandise left over, IMHO.

Kohl’s gets my vote and my 2 cents.

Frank Poole
Guest
3 years 2 months ago

J.C. Penney by a mile. Their ad suggests, in a nicely executed twist, that we “rage against the dying of the light,” and snatch life from the jaws of death.

Not unlike Penney’s itself.

Joan Treistman
BrainTrust

I like J.C.Penney’s commercial because its story was relatable … to me. If I could deliver the kind of joy that man expressed, I would gladly do so.

On the other hand, the Kohl’s ad is more effective in reaching a larger audience, both adults and kids, promoting a warm-hearted message and illustrating the availability of some unexpected (at Kohl’s) products.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

JCP’s was a warm, wonderful ad, but — and it pains me to say this — it did little to promote the brand, or connect the store with the message … in short it would have made a great PSA for veterans, or maybe a Hallmark ad (do those even run anymore?).

So by default: Kohl’s (and ya’ can’t go wrong with squirrels…).

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
3 years 2 months ago
I’m quite disappointed in the J.C. Penney’s ad. Brilliant production of a sweet emotional story that achieves little. There are simply too many conflicting messages. What is the real point? That J.C. Penney’s has stuff you wouldn’t expect? That’s a smart message — but far too subtle in the ad. Is it about “good stuff for old farts”? Not a good message. Especially disappointed as a former aerospace guy who has populated my office with models of exotic test airplanes. Lots I connect with emotionally — but nothing that really makes sense. Personally, I like the Kohl’s ad. And Kohl’s has historically done pretty well with focus on reasons to be at, buy at, and go back to their store. And it hits on the fundamentals: Hooks us parents with a common situation we identify with. Gives us drama as he leaves it behind. Gives us animated cuteness to distracts us from it being too pedantic. And ends with a sweet message that combines “we carry American Girl” with the store employee saving the day.… Read more »
Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

Better than the last two, but not by much. Perhaps more at this time of year than any other, ads have dual purposes — sell more stuff and remind us of the spirit of Christmas. Both adds attempt to do that and both go one step further to make statements about items we might not expect to find in their stores.

My vote goes to Kohl’s, but agree with Ryan that the hug at the end was an award scene.

W. Frank Dell II
BrainTrust

Both commercials convey the Christmas spirit, but provide a very weak link to the retailer. Both are entertaining and will keep the viewer watching. Yet somehow I think they should have a stronger link to the retailer.

For Kohl’s, have the store in the background while he is pushing the cart. For J.C. Penney, the box should provide a link to the company so people know where to buy.

Richard Hernandez
Guest

Wow! I don’t know what target audience Penney’s was focusing on. I guess I will pick Kohl’s this time.

As always, the Great Britain retailers have done it again with communicating the meaning of the holidays.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"The Kohl’s ad does a better job of connecting to its core customers."
"Christmas is for kids IMO. If I were going to give a flight gift to pops, I’d do that anytime and probably with Delta. "
"There are simply too many conflicting messages. What is the real point?"

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