PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – Struggling retailer JCPenney is under fire again, this time for one of the company’s latest ‘back to school’ television advertisements. Many critics on Facebook and other social media websites have attacked the Plano-based company for promoting bullying while hyping this year’s popular clothing brands.
The offending ad (seen above) features a voiceover saying that a boy’s clothing could “make or break” him for the entire school year. It then shows a student sitting alone at a lunch table, while all other students have quickly disappeared.
Some people complained to JCPenney online, saying that the spot promotes bullying and puts extreme pressure on cash-strapped parents to purchase the latest clothes for their kids.
“Bullying doesn’t always look like kids punching others. The boy is sitting alone at the table, isolated and abandoned by his friends who are wearing the ‘cool’ clothes,” stated Facebook user Lissa Albert. “Exclusion is a very common form of bullying. Judging people based on what they wear, how they look, that is bullying, especially when one kid is alone while the crowd abandons him.”
Social media users have argued back and forth about the legitimacy of these complaints.
“I love the products at JCP, but several ads they’ve posted have unintentionally targeted the less fortunate children who are not at fault for their status,” said Nadia Bogarin. “They will feel the pressure of having to go to school without nice clothes.”
“The commercial was not about bullying,” said Sara Smile. “Too bad if some kids can afford nice clothes and others cannot. I don’t think any kid is going to get beat up for not wearing JCPenney clothes.”
John Gizowski asked, “How clueless are you? What a horrible bully-promoting commercial.”
“Just watched the commercial, didn’t see any bullying going on,” said Kathy Owen. “Get REAL people.”
JCPenney has pulled the controversial advertisement from the airwaves, but it can still be found posted by others on sites like YouTube. The company issued a response that explained, “Our intent was not to trivialize or promote bullying. At JCPenney, we’re committed to carrying a broad range of styles that let kids express their individuality and make a positive first impression. Our marketing is meant to inspire kids to create and reveal their look as they head back to school this season.”
“Glad to see you’ve done the right thing and pulled the ad stating clothes can make or break the school year,” said Albert. “I hope this is the beginning of sensitivity in your marketing department and we can all work together to help prevent bullying!”
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