The holidays are in motion at Hallmark Channel and J.C. Penney Co. Inc., with the companies announcing a strategic partnership this week as part of Hallmark’s 10th anniversary of its “Countdown to Christmas.”
It seems the retailer is hoping to bolster last year’s “conspicuous” holiday slippage. What proved to be a good holiday sales season for most retailers, left J.C. Penney wanting. Stores closed earlier this year and this summer, bankruptcy rumors stirred — so a good holiday season this time around is essential for a turnaround.
The partnership with J.C. Penney will involve “custom on-air content, digital and live activations, exclusive in-store retail displays” centering on the debut of “Christmas at Dollywood.”
Just this week, the 117-year-old retailer added a new chief digital officer, Karl Walsh, as the latest tweak in Penney’s rebuild of its top management over the past year, as reported by WWD.
Other than the new strategies in digital, Penney’s also brought on a pilot into resale this summer with the help of ThredUp, as part of its broader reinvention and clamor for department stores to stay relevant.
A movie premiere at Village East Cinema on Thursday night in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan kicked off the partnership, with Penney’s inviting some of its digital influencers, decking the halls with stockings, holiday throws and the like and with Hallmark star Danica McKellar (and Santa Claus) also in attendance.
McKellar, who stars in “Christmas at Dollywood,” is essentially penned as the influencer for Penney’s this holiday season, with ads also appearing on the retailer’s digital platforms, social channels and the Hallmark Movie checklist app.
Dolly Parton makes a cameo in the anticipated Hallmark film, set at her theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., which gets about two million visitors annually. She recently signed a global licensing deal with IMG — and with reach to more than 1.8 million followers on Instagram — could help give the late-to-digital department store another boost.
Penney’s chief customer officer Shawn Gensch said Hallmark is the “perfect partner,” to which Ed Georger, executive vice president of ad sales and digital media, at Crown Media Family Networks echoed, in a similar statement.
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