JC Penney pulls “Girls are pretty (but dumb)” t-shirt

A back-to-school t-shirt garnered JCPenney a lot of bad press that started via social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.  The retailer known for its aggressive back-to-school advertising and promotions should have known better than to promote a shirt that reads: “I’m too pretty to do my homework so my brother has to do it for me.”

In fact, according to Deborah Belgum, senior editor for California Apparel News, and Ellie Krupnik at The Huffington Post, JC Penney just made a big marketing mistake with a little t-shirt.

The t-shirt was taken off the retailer’s website 8/31/2011 and the following statement was provided to the Village Voice:

“J.C. Penney is committed to being America’s destination for great style and great value for the whole family. We agree that the ‘Too pretty’ t-shirt does not deliver an appropriate message, and we have immediately discontinued its sale. Our merchandise is intended to appeal to a broad customer base, not to offend them. We would like to apologize to our customers and are taking action to ensure that we continue to uphold the integrity of our merchandise that they have come to expect.”

The beauty of social media is that it gives consumer a voice. But it also gives retailers and businesses a voice. And when used properly, a business can enjoy a real dialogue with its audience.  JCPenney had the opportunity to go beyond the “corporate statement” and reach out to their audience on a more personal level.  They failed.

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