Budget department store chain JCPenney will open its first Manhattan store at the end of the month. As detailed by The New York Times, a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign positions the retailer as a stylish and wallet-friendly alternative to its “overpriced neighbors,” a nod to posh New York department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue. One ad declares: “Our neighbors must be shaking in their overpriced boots.”
Will this be enough to overcome the brand’s association with Middle American—not New York—style? While the tone of the copy has New York style all over it, moving too far away from the brand’s core values could come off as inauthentic. On the other hand, the campaign plays into a consumer trend that’s capturing even the most fashion-minded New Yorker: the desire for thrifty style and a move away from “disgusting” and foolish consumption.