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JCPenney integrates mobile into back-to-school campaign

J. C. Penney Company Inc., one of the nation's leading retailers, will kick off the back-to-school season with an integrated marketing campaign that makes intelligent use of mobile as part of the media mix.

The mobile aspect of the campaign starts with a call to action on asking consumers to text STYLE to the short code JCP4ME. Participants opt-in to receive text-message alerts with fashion ideas, special store offers and sales.

"Yes, mobile marketing will be part of our back-to-school campaign this year," said Kate Parkhouse, PR manager for JCPenney, Plano, TX. "We want to fish where the fish are and reach teens where they live and breathe and mobile marketing allows us to contact them directly.

"Additionally, because they have control as to whether or not they want the messages sent to them, we are not bombarding them with information they are not interested in," she said.

"While traditional media remains an important component of our back-to-school marketing campaign, we continue to add non-traditional media components that really enhance our overall marketing mix and engage the customer."

The alerts are meant to be helpful to potential customers. Registrants will get special access to JCPenney downloads, such as ringtones and wallpapers.

Consumers can opt to cancel the text messages to their phone at any time.

Consider a sample text alert: "Check out or text style to JCP4ME for ringtones, games and more of our great back-to-school styles."

The microsite will launch July 18.

JCPenney is one of the leading retailers, operating 1,074 department stores throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, catalogs and a billion-dollar-plus online operation.

Avenue A/Razorfish, New York, handles the mobile component of the campaign.

The overall campaign was created by Saatchi & Saatchi New York. It focuses on "The Breakfast Club" -- one of pop culture's teen movies that is currently experiencing a resurgence among today's youth.

The back-to-school campaign will highlight the array of lifestyle brands available at JCPenney.

The television ads feature a remix of Simple Minds' song "Don't You Forget About Me" from "The Breakfast Club" soundtrack.

Drawing from the movie's storyline, the ads focus on a group of teens, each representing a different high-school clique and wearing JCPenney's latest Juniors and Young Men's brands to showcase the variety of lifestyle "looks" available.

Juniors lifestyle brands featured in the TV commercials include Decree, Fabulosity and Le Tigre.

Beginning July 18, a 60-second version of the spots will air during previews for PG and PG-13 movies in theatres nationwide. It will also be available on JCPenney's back-to-school site at

The 30-second spots begin airing July 20 during top prime time and cable TV programming aimed at teens.

Additionally, JCPenney has designed the microsite at to be a place for teens to connect with others, create their own content and explore the retailer's fashion offerings.

The microsite will feature an interactive "pick your own adventure" game that allows site users to choose from one of the teen lifestyle characters -- a Decree teen, an American Living teen, a Whitetag teen or a Fabulosity teen -- featured in the commercials.

Users can choose different outfits for their characters to determine their storyline, which leads to additional online lifestyle-related games such as paper football for the American Living teen or Pac-Man for the Fabulosity teen.

To top it all, JCPenney will incorporate popular, youth-targeted award shows into its back-to-school campaign.

"With teens emerging as today's key influencers of purchase decisions made by their family, we've devoted enormous attention to building on our leadership position as the number one department store destination for this key audience," said Ken Hicks, president and chief merchandising officer for JCPenney, in a statement.