JCPenney Goes Back-To-School with Reality Webisodes

As the school year approaches, one of the oldest and most iconic department store brands is reaching out to kids in a new way; it’s creating its own online teen reality show.

JCPenney is working with creative agency Saatchi and Saatchi New York to create “Flipped,” a reality show hosted on the department store’s Web site at www.jcp.com/mixitup. The premise of the show is to follow several teen cliques at a New Jersey high school and watch as students spend time with groups other than their own. Hosted by clothing designers Chip and Pepper Foster, “Flipped” is intended to introduce the idea of mixing up different styles of clothing available from JCPenney.

“That was the idea in creating the series…why don’t you mix things up and try something different?” said Matthew Atkatz, interactive creative director for Saatchi and Saatchi New York. “We know that kids are incredibly savvy and sophisticated about marketing messages today, so we were looking to reach to them in a more authentic voice. We also really wanted to communicate in the medium that kids spend the most time, which is the Internet, so melding reality TV and the Web was natural for us.”

“Traditional media is still a huge component of our campaign” said Kate Parkhouse, a JCPenney spokesperson. “We’re going to have our print and television ads, but every year we look at the landscape and see [what] are the more innovative ways to reach kids.”

To promote the site itself, JCPenney is running television commercials, print ads and in-store promotions. It’s also running movie trailers combined with a mobile advertising component, and online advertising at sites including Yahoo Music, Seventeen and Cosmogirl.

“Flipped” has an eight episode run, with each episode released weekly, so the site has “a lot of repeat viewers,” she said, which brings a “stickiness to the sitelet.”

In addition to the Webisodes, the min-site also includes fashion tips, contests, the campaign’s TV spots, profiles of the show’s participants and an online store.

“Today the younger consumer is more engaged in the digital format. And it allows them to be engaged with the JCPenney brand as a whole. It’s more than shopping; it’s getting to know the brand though the sitelet,” said Parkhouse.

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