According to Stuart Elliott, the advertising columnist for The New York Times, J. C. Penny is launching a new clothing and home furnishings line called American Living. Using product designs by Ralph Lauren, whose name and sub-brands will not be associated with the new brand, the American Living launch will look and feel like Polo ads and be shot by Bruce Weber the photographer who has established Ralph Lauren’s consumer face.
This approach is so rear view mirror. Rear view mirror planning looks at things that have worked in the past and simply repackages them. Penny is not looking into the future with this approach and, frankly, neither is Ralph Lauren whose brands should take a hit due to the closeness of this new campaign. Brand dilution will occur.
And the name “American Living,” could it be a more predictable pander? It’s straight out of the Lauren playbook, which if you ask me is beginning to get a little old. If Bruce Weber gets hit by a mattress truck (God forbid) both brands will be in serious shape. J.C. Penny is doing the right thing here, but they are looking through the rear window instead of the windshield. Their new customers are younger and out in front….waiting for something new.