JC Penney dresses down Saatchi for fake speed dressing ad

Saatchi & Saatchi won a Cannes Bronze Lion over the weekend for their racy JC Penney Speed Dressing commercial. Everyone congratulated the agency for the win except the client because they never approved the spot!

J.C. Penney Co. officials are upset about a racy, fake advertisement on YouTube in which the retailer appears to be endorsing teen sex, and they are blaming the company's ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi.

JC Penney Speed Dressing (Spec) (2008):60 (USA)

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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Dabitch's picture

Scam ads win in Cannes again. Tut tut.

I'm surpised that it's Saatchi. I guess the rumor about the "fake floor" at Saatchi, New York is true then. I didn't want to believe that being an ex-saatchi gal - god knows we would never get away with even thinking that at my old Saatchi (not NYC). Times change though.

Andreas-Udd's picture

Saatchi NYC are world famous for scam ads, even toppling Singapore off the top spot, shortly followed by India.

bittertruth's picture

I thought India held the top spot!

Andreas-Udd's picture

Now that you've alerted us to the Luxor campaign being a scam, India gets to share the top spot.

Andreas-Udd's picture

To add to that, I can't fathom why a real client would place their brand in their hands, knowing that they create fake ads for the money you pay them to create real ads.

Dabitch's picture

Perhaps the clients simply don't know Saatchi's recent reputation?

purplesimon's picture

Fave comment from YouTube:

"That's great, promoting teen sex is certainly a good way to sell the JCPenny brand. Whatever, Penny's clothes suck shit, I would never shop there."

Now, I don't know the brand well enough to say whether that's true, but sure made me laugh. Is it any worse than this:

Personally, I don't see a problem with either - we all know teenagers have sex ffs.

DiGennaro Communications's picture

The following statement is being issued on behalf of Saatchi & Saatchi:

“Saatchi & Saatchi has a long history of producing principled and respectful advertising for JCPenney and its entire client roster. The Speed Dressing TV commercial, which was submitted to the 2008 International Advertising Festival at Cannes, was created by a third party vendor without JCPenney's knowledge or consent. It was produced and released to the public without any knowledge or prior approval from JCPenney. Saatchi & Saatchi did not enter the spot and deeply regrets the message this ad presents. Saatchi & Saatchi apologizes to JCPenney, its associates and its customers. The commercial is being removed from public circulation.”

Dabitch's picture

AH,so Saatchi's name got in credits at The Cannes Lions Bronze film winner category, because the production company that Saatchi hired entered the ad? Credits as listed at Cannes Lions:

Type Of Entry: Product & Service
Category: Retail Stores
Advertiser: JCPENNEY
Entrant Company, City: EPOCH FILMS, New York
Country: USA
Advertising Agency, City: SAATCHI & SAATCHI, New York
Country: USA
Executive Creative Director: Kerry Keenan
Copywriter: Julia Neumann
Art Director: Menno Kluin/Michael Schachtner
Agency Producer: Zamile Vilakazi
Account Supervisor: Natasha Williamson
Production Company, City: EPOCH FILMS, New York
Country: USA
Director: Mike Long
Editor: Joe Guest
Other Credits: Agency Executive Producer: Colin Pearsall / CCO: Gerry Graf

Two teens practice putting their clothes on quickly in anticipation of making out in the basement later.

Film Lions
Retail Stores

Allan1's picture

From the self-same credits:
Two teens practice putting their clothes on quickly in anticipation of making out in the basement later.

Making out? More like hooking up. (Or just plain [or fancy] sex to most older folk).

Robblink's picture

Maybe Saatchi can do some editing and resubmit the ad as a PSA against Teen Pregnancy Pacts?


Dabitch's picture

Hehe. Oh, and here's arstechnica's take on it: JC Penney wants nothing to do with free viral advertising

Although the spot is indeed a tiny bit racy, it's a far cry from most of what can be found on both the Internet and even traditional TV. JC Penney's reaction to the video is reminiscent of Coca-Cola's initial condemnation of the Mentos + Diet Coke video phenomenon: curmudgeonly. The company is clearly conservative—like my grandparents who like to shop there—and perhaps doesn't quite "get" the Internet like some others do. A beautifully-shot, free viral advertising campaign that generates a little bit of controversial buzz can certainly go a long way in getting your name out.

Without the 'Net and sites like YouTube, such viral videos couldn't even exist, and advertising agencies are still trying to figure out the magical formula to inorganically create similar buzz around a campaign. And, as companies like Viacom have discovered, trying to have something "removed from the Internet" can be an exercise in futility. Then again, JC Penney getting its feathers ruffled over the Big Bad Internet spreading a video about the S-word is actively contributing to the buzz. Maybe, like Coca-Cola, JC Penney will eventually take its free lunch and run with it. Or not.

Andreas-Udd's picture

So piecing together the clues, it is likely that a) Saatchi wrote the script or worked on it in some way b) hired Epoch films to shoot it and c) probably showed JCpenney what a clever agency they are, but had the idea rejected by JCPenny. So, the ad never made it to air, but made it to Cannes.

See why we need a spec work category? It's a really nice piece of film done by Epoch and they should be allowed to compete with work they have done even though the client nixed it. The spec work category could even swap out brand names (to generics) to prevent pissing off real clients.

DiGennaro Communications is going around every blog swearing of Saatchi's innocence.

purplesimon's picture

I think a spec work category would still need to have a brand name in it, otherwise if it was generics, we'd see more and more Badlanders.

And that's almost as bad as scams winning Cannes. [Pardon the rhyme there.]