Penney’s Kicks Off Back to School Campaign

JCPenney starts wooing the back-to-school crowd online on Sunday, launching an integrated marketing campaign with the theme “You’ve Got It Inside.” As part of the effort, rich media-heavy online advertising sends kids to the jcpenneybts.com microsite.

Tribal DDB Chicago worked on the site and online campaign. DDB Chicago created the TV and print components.

The microsite is designed to lead kids down a click-path that has them watching videos, clicking on featured products and eventually making a purchase. The agency and retailer developed a similar concept for a campaign that began during the Academy Awards in March.

“With each season, we keep building and building a stronger, deeper and more rich experience for the consumer to engage,” said Kevin Flatt, executive creative director of Tribal DDB Chicago.

On the back to school site, visitors are met by about nine kids, each of whom each has his own profile complete with featured outfits for purchase. Several of the personalities have their own rooms that show both clothes and other merchandise to equip kids for the coming year. Each element is presented in a way that speaks to kids and how they communicate with each other.

“In a virtual sense, it allows you to jump in between those rooms,” said Flatt. “It mirrors the real world, nowadays people and especially kids themselves are a broadcast network.”

The agency populated the site with what it calls “authentic kids” though one minor celebrity made the casting call, Lindsay Lohan’s younger sister Ali. Her profile includes outfits from the Arizona Jean Company, with direct links to purchase on JCPenney.com. An exclusive line of clothing based on the X Games brand is also featured on the microsite.

Partners with a presence on the site include the X Games, Fox’s Teen Choice Awards and MTV. The Fox content includes a casting call and MTV offers visitors a promotion to become a Video Music Awards (VMA) Insider.

The strategic relationship with MTV goes deeper, with traffic being directed from one site to the other. “We can send them over to watch videos,” said Flatt. “On the flip side, MTV can send kids to the site.”

To deploy expandable ad units on sites like Yahoo, AOL, MSN and MTV.com, Tribal DDB partnered with Avenue A| Razorfish. The creative is designed to reach kids in the same ways they communicate with their friends. One execution appears reminiscent of a text message over a cell phone, for example, and invites viewers to go and explore the rooms and profiles at jcpenneybts.com.

The campaign will run from July 16 through mid September across online, TV and print. It includes sponsorships of the the music awards show Premio Juventud on Univision; the Teen Choice Awards on Fox and MTV’s Video Music Awards.

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