J. C. Penney Shows ...


I penned this tweet last week:

JCPenney Twitter Post

Some background –

To show people it’s a new day at J. C. Penney, the company posted a video called “It’s No Secret” on YouTube in early May.  The 30-second spot acknowledged past mistakes and plans to change its ways.

I took the position that if a company deploys a video to fall on its sword, at least bring the CEO into the picture so an actual human communicates the mea culpa. Instead, the video delivered a syrupy soundtrack, a hired voice over and promotional copywriting. I posted this POV on May 2.

On May 9, I was alerted that the embedded video from J. C. Penney was no longer accessible in my post; hence, the tweet.

So what happened?

At first blush, I thought J. C. Penney was singling out my unflattering viewpoint.

Not the case.

Upon going up on the official J. C. Penney YouTube channel, it turns out that the video was taken down, and with it hundreds of posted comments dissipated into the ether.

The brand jockeys at the retailer probably concluded that the video was hurting the company’s image. Unfortunately, the video had already been flung to the far reaches of the digital universe. Sure, those who embedded the YouTube video discovered it no longer worked, but by this time the video had been reposted on numerous other YouTube pages. Simply redirecting the link to one of these pages turned the video back on.

While not impressed with J. C. Penney’s attempt to make the offending video disappear, I don’t want to miss the bigger lesson.

Social media at its best, particularly when addressing an issue, should be part of a holistic campaign that pulls from multiple disciplines.

The problem with J. C. Penney’s YouTube tactic wasn’t execution as much as the video operated on an island. No air cover from the CEO with earned media. Little thought as to how other social platforms would support the cause. No attention paid to the website. And the list goes on.

If something feels like a short cut, it probably is.


  • @amisha_sud

    Agreed! this is a perfect example of how important integrating marketing communication platforms is. message should be supported by all platforms.
    also, the video was indeed not human…they should have used real shoppers/employees rather than paid ones!

    • hoffman

      Amisha, thanks for the take. Given Northwestern’s fame for integrated marketing/communications, sounds like you landed at the rigth school. Good luck!

  • Steve

    They are called digital rights. Every spot is pulled from YouTube when the digital rights are up.

    • hoffman

      Steve, I appreciate you jumping in with the possible JC Penny rationalization.

      But I don’t think the digital rights came due after one week.

      • hoffman


        I stand corrected. Heard from JC Penny on Twitter and they shared that digital rights were indeed the issue.

        I suppose why one would use images in which the digital rights expire after one week is a question for another day.


Leave a Reply