J.C. Penney had a bad rap when I was growing up as a lame old-lady store, but they’ve really upped their game lately, and I’m loving all the colorful mix-and-match clothes for kids this year! Unfortunately, many moms are missing the designs, becoming infuriated by the brand’s so-called “encouragement of bullying.”
The commercial in question is one of several released by Penneys this summer as parents gear up for back-to-school shopping. The other commercials talk all about the new designs in the form of rap songs performed by the kids who wear them, but this one is different. It’s a mom talking about why she shops at J.C. Penneys for her kids’ school stuff, and one simple statement has moms prickling.
“I’ve been told this stuff can make or break your entire year,” the woman says in the commercial while who we assume to be her son sits in a crowded cafeteria smiling with his friends. One second he’s happy and socializing, and the next, the kids all disappear, leaving the boy alone with his lunch tray.
“But I’m not even going to pretend to know what cool is,” the woman continues. “I’ll just take them to the sales, and leave the rest to them.”
Watch for yourself. Article continues below.
“I find your back to school ad disturbing,” one commenter wrote. “I cannot believe that you would place more pressure on children by telling them that their clothes can either 'make or break' a child. Let me tell you what can make or break a child. BULLYING!”
Moms, have any of your kids come to you asking for a pair of Ugg boots or patterned leggings? Have any of your kids pointed out something that one of their classmates was wearing and said, “Mom, I NEED that!” Have any of them looked at a shirt you suggest for them while out shopping and said, “Mom, no. That is so uncool.”
Furthermore, are you wearing rolled-up jeans, neon accents, or tiny knuckle rings?
These are all examples of living by society’s standards, and the way I see it, this J.C. Penney ad is drawing attention to the fact (yes, I said fact) that kids who wear today’s trends in school are less likely to get picked on. Kids (and parents, for that matter) don’t need to be “pressured” into the idea that clothes will make or break them socially — it’s an age-old concept that pops into everyone’s head as they hit the mall. What’s in right now?
One commenter said, “I work in a corporate environment... if I don't dress well, I don't get a promotion and people look down on me. May as well prepare them for reality, no?” I have to agree. While dressing professionally is a different message for the workplace than dressing in trends in grade school, it’s still the same idea that dressing to impress will get you places.
The clothes for your kids’ new school year don’t have to be expensive, and you don’t have to get them every piece in the new line that just hit the racks. But we’re confident that your kids could tell you what’s hot or not in the halls. The mom in the commercial is clearly taking a hint from her kids while still sticking to her budget from shopping at a store with notoriously low retail prices.
Just a few more quick thoughts:
- You can’t honestly tell me that you’ve never seen a back-to-school commercial with this same message. The whole angle of “look cool for school” is definitely not new.
- A cleared out cafeteria is not bullying. Not even by a long shot.
- If you want to pick on a back-to-school commercial, take a look at this “Yo Mama” ad from Kmart.