CSU, Chico News

Marketing and Design Team Produces First-Place J.C. Penney Campaign

Date: 05-02-2011

Kathleen McPartland
Bill McGowan
Department of Marketing

The ‘gen y’us team of marketing and graphic design/media arts students at California State University, Chico put together a truly genius marketing strategy for J.C. Penney Co. that brought them first place and a 40-inch trophy at a regional advertising competition.

The “Think Again” 32-page advertising booklet and 20-minute presentation was chosen by five corporate judges from corporate headquarters in Plano, Tex. as the best campaign at the 2011 District #14 American Advertising Federation-National Student Advertising Competition (AAF-NSAC) on April 23 at San Jose State.

The 'gen y'us team is made up of students from the Department of Marketing, advised by Professor Bill McGowan, and the Department of Communication, advised by Alan Rellaford, creative director for CSU, Chico.

Presenters Madelyn Lombard, Kylie Smith, Jon Bohlander, Jennifer Moffitt and Andrew Chalmers triumphed over teams from the University of Nevada-Reno, UC Berkeley, San Jose State, Fresno State and San Francisco State.

The “Think Again” theme targeted a 25-34 year-old female audience to change its perceptions of J.C. Penney, while also challenging J.C. Penney to “Think Again.” For the first phase of the competition, the team conducted extensive research on the target market and then created a media plan including commercials, print ads, social media and the Internet. The “Think Again” booklet provided strategy and direction to help turn around and increase the share of the 25-34-year-old female target market. They had a hypothetical budget of $100 million, and McGowan said that they used it all. The second phase was the 20-minute oral presentation.

The team’s suggestions for traditional and non-traditional advertisements included digital touch screen panels at bus stops to a new website design, to a billboard with rotating panels moving from the question, “Think value is hard to find?” to “Think Again.” One of the qualities of the campaign that a judge admired was its “risk taking.” One billboard suggestion shows a pair of granny underpants hung on a line next to a pair of red and black thong panties. The text is, “Think only Grandma Shops here? Think again.”

“Judge Mary McNaught pointed out that we took a risk with our billboard ad but in essence ‘nailed it,’” said McGowan. “It was something they were reluctant to do in the past, but may look at risk-taking differently now.”

Beginning in the fall of 2010, the marketing and design students collaborated on ideas, research, strategies and design for the 32-page advertising plan. Several students have both a major and a minor in marketing or graphic design, and those students took part in more than one aspect of the project. The marketing side of the team included presenters Bohlander, Chalmers, Lombard, Moffitt and Smith, as well as Marshal Downey, Kaitlin Ellenburg, Ryan Jacobs, Eddie Marquez, Sarah McLaughlin, Keith Morse, Laura Sloane, Taylor Lovern, Shelby Stack, Jody Ventura, Emily Strasburg and Kelsey Potter. The graphic design part of the team included Jen S. Aguirre, Kai Larsen as well as Strasburg and Potter. The media arts team members were Downey and Bohlander.

The next stop for the Chico State champions is the AAF-NSAC National competition in San Diego in June 1-3. McGowan said that they are ready to take on the other national competitors and win. “Think we are going south just for the better weather?” said McGowan. “Think Again!”

The Chico team also took first place at the AAF-NSAC district competition in 2007 and took second place in 2009.

An encore performance of the `gen y’us team’s award-winning J.C. Penney presentation will occur on Thursday, May 5 at 5 p.m. in PAC-144. The public is welcome.