J.C. Penney is pretty upset with the creatives at Epoch Films who secretly filmed a J.C. Penney commercial (apparently also keeping the retailer’s agency Saatchi & Saatchi in the dark) that was off-message for the brand, entered it into the Cannes Lions Awards where it won a Bronze Lion.
And people wonder why clients suspect that marketing creatives are more interested in winning awards than advancing the brand. In fact, my opening line that J.C. Penney is pretty upset is probably a huge understatement: I know of a similar thing that happened a year ago and the marketing manager was livid.
The unauthorized J.C. Penney ad, titled “Speed Dressing”, shows two teenagers practicing getting dressed quickly and then heading to the basement of a house whilst the girl’s mother is upstairs. The tagline "Today's the day to get away with it" appears on screen as the teens head off.
"It's obviously inappropriate and nothing we would ever condone," J.C. Penney chief marketing officer Mike Boylson told The Wall Street Journal. "We're very disappointed that our logo and brand position were used in that way."
After wide-ranging consultations with all involved by the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, Epoch withdrew the entry and their award was struck from the record.
But the perception damage remains that creatives pursue creativity for their own gain and not the good of the brand. The marketing services industry needs to act to restore credibility. Surely all entries could contain a simple sign-off by the client that they approved the submitted competition material.
When Creativity Does Nothing for the Brand