To me, one of the most difficult lessons we learn as we grow is that it’s impossible to please everyone all the time. As much as we would love for everyone to agree with all of our decisions, it’s not likely to happen. I think that in terms of marketing, brands also learn that universal appeal is impossible. For example, McDonald’s may be great for people who are pressed for time, but no matter how much it tweaks its menu it will probably never be the go-to place for people who are very health-conscious. One brand that recently had to pick a side is JCPenney.
When JCPenney used Ellen Degeneres as a spokesperson for its rebrand earlier this year, One Million Moms, a campaign against media they consider immoral, loudly protested against the use of an openly gay spokesperson. Despite the controversy, I didn’t find the ad campaign very risky since it did not focus at all on Ellen’s sexuality. Anyone can relate to her wondering why prices always ending in 99. But now, JCPenney has clearly chosen a side with a Father’s Day ad that stars a gay couple and their children.
JCPenney realized that it was impossible to please both One Million Moms and their supporters and the LGBT community and their supporters, so they picked a side.
Picking sides can be a smarter move than tiptoeing around the issue. If JCPenney had been ambiguous, neither side would have been pleased. Both sides would have continued pressuring the company to show its support for their cause. Of course, we cannot attribute JCPenney’s choice solely to their moral compass. The company must have also evaluated what made more business sense and concluded that gaining the respect of the LGBT community and their supporters was the more valuable option.
How do you think showing support for the LGBT community has benefited JCPenney?