Abysmal sales at J.C. Penney haven’t deterred the company from pursuing a series of unique cause marketing activities around a potential new holiday tradition focused on giving back.
Tuesday marks the first ever #GivingTuesday, a social media initiative J.C. Penney help organize that follows on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday with the intention of inspiring Americans to join in acts of giving and celebrate the country’s tradition of generosity. J.C. Penney is doing its part on Tuesday when it kicks of a 12 days of giving campaign in New York’s Bryant Park with a free performance by popular recording artist John Legend and free ice skating and hot chocolate.
"As a company founded on the Golden Rule, J.C. Penney has a strong legacy of giving back. As we embark on our exciting transformation, we realize becoming America's favorite store isn't just about the shopping experience we offer our customers – it's also about what we do to support the communities in which we live and work," said Miki Woodard, the company’s president and vice president of philanthropy. "The holidays are a time of generosity and giving and we look forward to sharing this holiday spirit through our Holiday Giving Tour by surprising America with acts of generosity across the country."
The surprising and clever acts will unfold over the coming days and should generate considerable favorable publicity for a company whose transformational strategy has yet to produce favorable results. For example, after the Legend performance in New York, it is on to Langhorne, Pa., where lumberjacks will distribute free firewood outside a store at the Oxord Valley Mall. Then it is on to Orlando where J.C. Penney will replace toll booth attendants with Santas and will match the tolls paid with donations to the Salvation Army.
In Knoxville, Tn., a miniature J.C. Penney-branded blimp will drop small gifts to unsuspecting pedestrians and the following day in Dallas the company will make snow to create sledding opportunities at Flagpole Hill park. Continuing the winter theme in another warm weather city, the parking lot of a store at New Orleans’ Oakwood Shopping Center will be turned into a skating rink.
Residents of Chicago will be treated to a Santa handing out J.C. Penney cashmere scarves, hats and other items. From there, the company heads west and in the town of Alamosa, Co., a ceremony will be held to light a Rockefeller Center-sized Christmas tree. In nearby Kemmerer, Wy., J.C. Penney will take over local car wash to provide free car washes by Santas while elves dispense hot beverages, $10 gift cards and breakfast burritos.
In Portland, residents will have an opportunity to receive one of hundreds of poinsettias used by a local artist earlier in the day to create something called a pointillism portrait. In Phoenix, a team of elves will offer free valet parking at J.C. Penney’s Paradise Valley stores. The Giving Tour concludes in grand fashion outside a store at the Westfield Culver City mall when recording artist Blake Shelton provides an acoustic holiday performance.
Beyond the 12 day tour, J.C. Penney said its stores would also be providing acts of generosity to customers throughout the holiday season by distributing collectible holiday buttons featuring one of 50 classic designs and holiday expressions. A unique code on the back of each button offers customers a chance to win one of millions of gifts including vacations, tickets to The Ellen DeGeneres Show, J.C. Penney merchandise and gift cards. In addition, for each button redeemed on November 27 at www.jcp.com/christmas the company will donate one dollar to the Salvation Army up to $100,000.