J.C. Penney the movie? The video game? The TV network?
This story first appeared in the January 27, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It’s not clear how Ron Johnson’s reinvention of the ailing Penney’s will change how the retailer’s branding story is told, but it seems that each of these things, while perhaps not probable, is now at least in the realm of possibility.
Penney’s entered a three-year partnership with FactoryMade Ventures — an entertainment-oriented consultancy that under a previous incarnation helped Hasbro bring Transformers and G.I. Joe to the silver screen and got HSN to blend online gaming and e-commerce.
“It is part of the FactoryMade DNA to understand that entertainment combined with modern technology has the power to ignite and bolster customer engagement,” said John Fogelman, chief executive officer of FactoryMade, who has worked with J.J. Abrams, Michael Bay, Kevin Spacey and others. “As J.C. Penney begins to reimagine their future, our creative engineers will help mine opportunities that will revolutionize their storied brand.”
Fogelman said Hollywood can help retailers better connect to their customers emotionally.
“If you step back and think about what Hollywood is actually, what it is great at it is it’s great at emoting,” he said. “Great storytellers can drive great emotion.”
And right now Fogelman said there is almost a “sadness” in malls.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s an event to go to a store today and if they’re really going to compete with the…convenience of shopping online, [shoppers] are going to have to feel that this is an event.”
Fogelman said he has a couple of ideas for Penney’s, but that nothing is set. Anything could be in the offing with Johnson overhauling Penney’s pricing and reshuffling the store, replacing the center core of the store into a service-oriented area called Town Square.
“J.C. Penney is partnering with the best, most innovative marketing and branding firms in the country,” said Michael Francis, the former Target Corp. executive who is now president of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. “Working alongside our talented in-house creative team, FactoryMade and our other key agency partners will be leading the charge in engaging customers and transforming J.C. Penney into America’s favorite store.”
Established in September, FactoryMade was previously part of talent agency William Morris Endeavor and was called Skunkworks.