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Million Moms Target JCPenney Ad Campaign

by Jenny Block
Contributor
Wednesday May 16, 2012
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A handful of moms with a grudge lash out at JCPenney. Again.

In January, JCPenney announced that Ellen Degeneres would be their new spokesperson. A tiny, grossly misnamed, and self-inflated group who call themselves One Million Moms (there are less than 40,000 in their ranks) squawked in outrage on their website.

"Funny that JCPenney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families. More sales will be lost than gained unless they replace their spokesperson quickly. Unless JCPenney decides to be neutral in the culture war then their brand transformation will be unsuccessful," said OMM on their website.

OMM admonished their followers to make a personal phone call to JCPenney’s corporate offices and customer service to express their outrage. OMM told them to ask JCPenney to immediately replace Ellen Degeneres as well as "remain neutral in the culture war."

They were incredibly effective -- in rallying the opposing side. The non-homophobic lashed out at OMM across the web. And JCPenney responded as well. On Yahoo Finance’s The Ticker, Ron Johnson, CEO of JCPenney told host Aaron Task that "there wasn’t ever any doubt" about keeping Ellen onboard. "We believe in Ellen. She shares our values and America believes in Ellen."

Ellen herself responded by saying, "I usually don’t talk about stuff like this on my show, but I really want to thank everyone who is supporting me. Here are the values I stand for. I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you’d want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values. That’s what I stand for...I also believe in dance."

One might assume that OMM would simply concede defeat. But that was not at all what happened. For the month of May, JCPenney dropped their most recent catalogue mailing, this one Mother’s Day-themed, and in it, among many other photographs, was a photograph of a beautiful family featuring two moms, two kids, and one grandmother. OMM was outraged.

JCPenney dropped their most recent Mother’s Day-themed catalogue featuring a photograph of a beautiful family with two moms, two kids, and one grandmother. OMM was outraged.

"It is obvious that JCP would rather take sides than remain neutral. JCP will hear from the other side so they need to hear from us as well," read a statement from the OMM website.

This time they asked their followers to pester store managers with their hate. "Call or visit, your local store manager. Local managers are more likely to listen to your concerns and pass them along to the corporate office," reads the call to action on their site.

OMM was once again incredibly successful -- at mobilizing the non-homophobic population. Across the Internet, gay, straight and otherwise commented, clicked, shared, liked, Tweeted, blogged, and emailed in support of JCPenney.

Edge reached out to OMM’s Director, Monica Cole, for comment via the American Family Association (AFA) website.

"Thank you for contacting OMM for an interview. Unfortunately, Monica is unavailable for an interview at this time. You may use the alerts from the website as OMM’s viewpoint," wrote Cindy Roberts, OMM’s Director of Media and Public Relations.

Roberts, however, failed to delete the embedded message from Cole, her boss, and thus shared an email clearly not intended for a reporter’s eyes. Speaking volumes about the organization’s intolerance, Cole wrote, "Could you let her know I will not be available? ☺ You know. I did check out the website, and there is no way."

When Edge emailed JCPenney about their May catalogue, spokesperson Daphne Avila had this to say, "As JCPenney focuses on becoming America’s favorite store, we want to be a store for all Americans. In celebration of Mother’s Day, we’re proud that our May book honors women from diverse backgrounds who all share the heartwarming experience of motherhood."

And when Edge asked if they might want to speak more specifically about the boycott, Avila replied immediately, saying, "Thanks for the opportunity, but we’re not going to give their campaign any credibility by acknowledging it."

Jenny Block is a Dallas based freelance writer and the author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" (Seal Press, June 2008). Block’s work has appeared in Cosmopolitan (Germany), USA Today, American Way, BeE, bRILLIANT, the Dallas Morning News, D, Pointe, and Virginia Living, as well as on huffingtonpost.com, yourtango.com, and ellegirl.com. You can also find her work in the books "It’s a Girl" (Seal Press, March 2006, ed. Andrea J. Buchanan) and "One Big Happy Family" (Riverhead Press, February 2009, Rebecca Walker, ed.).

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