Are Consumers Becoming Too Touchy?

It's back to school season and the advertising has begun. Kids need school supplies and new clothes to start the year and every business wants your bucks. But, will JCPenney be left out in the cold because of the backlash on their latest back to school ad?

This week, consumers cried foul as a television spot insinuated that not wearing the brands that JCP carries could make or break your year. The ad then cuts to all the kids disappearing and one young boy by himself. If you haven't seen the spot, check it out here:

* Can't see the video? Click here.

Frankly, I think the uproar is ridiculous. I'm sorry, but no matter how politically correct our world becomes, kids are kids and school is school. Children will always notice other kids' folders, lunchboxes, backpacks, and clothes. It's how kids are.

When I was growing up, if you had a Trapper Keeper you were cool. That sound of Velcro as you got your homework assignment out constantly reminder the other kids that you had one. It was the must-have item. I remember when I got a lunchbox that I was really excited about and the feeling it gave me when another kid said she liked it. I also remember the horrible year that my mom got me a hideous backpack and how I'd try to hid it coming and going from school. Boy, I hated that thing. The year I got my first pair of Nike's just like all the other kids had was a landmark. Were they amazing shoes? No. But all the other kids had them and the reality is that kids like to fit in (something as a grown-up I try to avoid at all costs).

As adults, most of use know better than to judge people based on the clothing they wear. This is something that comes with age, experience, and maturity. And, as much as we can try to teach our kids not to judge others based on superficial things like the jeans they wear, the fact is that school is a universe unto itself.

I'm not making excuses for bad behavior, but the critics who are saying the JCPenney ad promotes bullying are just silly. It does no such thing. It simply is reminding parents how important back to school purchases are to our kids. No kid will ever say they want the knock-off instead of the name brand. That's just not how kids are. And, although, not every parent will be able to buy their child ever item they'd prefer (I know my mom couldn't afford to), don't think that what your kid wears or takes to school doesn't matter to them. It does.

So, cut JCPenney some slack. There's nothing wrong with their ad in the least. It just depicts the world as it is. Don't like that world? Change it.


  1. Wow. I must've watched that commercial half a dozen times *trying* to find something that might be offensive to me in some way. I came up with nothing. Not one thing, but that's me. Someone, somewhere, will somehow come up with something - especially if that 'someone' is the media. It's just another way to get people talking. Bad attention is better than no attention, right?

  2. Hey Marianne,

    JCP did end up pulling the ad once a slew of women started leaving angry comments on their Facebook page. Personally, I think "bullying" is the new hot word to use. People are so anti-bullying that many are wrongfully using that word in instances where it just doesn't apply. This is one of those instances in my opinion.

    When I first saw the ad, I had to watch it a few times to find the "offensive" content, too.

    Sigh. Some people just look for something to complain about, don't they?

  3. This is silly to get in an uproar about that ad - we must've been in the same generation, because the Trapper Keeper was on my make it or break it list too. There are always cycles, and when you are a kid you want to be part of that cycle. And sometimes you ARE left out if you don't have it. But that is school, that is life. It's not bullying. Excluding someone is not bullying - there is a Nick ad for an anti-bully campaign that drives me nuts for the same reason. Not wanting to eat lunch with someone is not bullying, it's just not wanting to eat lunch with someone. You don't have to LIKE everyone to not be a bully. You don't even have to be NICE to not be a bully. You just have to not be a bully.

    And having been bullied to the point of transferring to 4 different high schools and dropping out entirely for a year, I know of which I speak. I would have been GLAD if the worst thing in my life was being shunned at the lunch table for not having a Trapper Keeper.

    And the worst part is the hypersensitivity to the bully cries now is coming dangerously close to The Boy Who Cried Wolf. If you claim it all the time, when something REALLY bad happens, is there going to be anyone willing to listen?

  4. Unfortunately it sounds like you know all too much about bullying. I'm sorry about that.

    Bullying is turning into a buzz word. If someone does something we don't like, they're called a bully. That's just not true, though.

    It's ridiculous that a company can't put out a back to school ad without being attacked by an ultra-PC mob. As you elude to, this almost undermines the seriousness of REAL bullying.

    Thanks for adding to the dialogue, Lynnette.

  5. I agree, I could see many retailers having this same ad. This does not promote bullying. It simply claims that JCP has the best brands and the best clothes.

  6. That's what I thought! Some people are just always ready to be offended, I suppose.


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