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May 17, 2012


What Ellen Degeneres does in her private life is none of my business.

I don't believe that because I am a conservatarian. I'm a conservatarian because I believe that.

My beef with Ellen isn't her lifestyle. Rather, it can be summed up in three words: She's not funny. Or, she isn't funny. Take your pick.

Ellen is phenomenally successful comic who makes more money in a nano second than most of us will earn in a lifetime. Apparently someone thinks she's a gas. See 1950's expressions for intrepretation. Or ask Jumpin Jack Flash.

I watched her stand-up routine. Her delivery was dry, pasty and overly articulate. Is that a human or a robot? I wondered. She didn't engage her audience, she said her lines. Precisely. Wince here. Sniggle her. Pause on cue. I suspect her mom was a speech therapist. Her gags were meant to be amusing. They weren't. Again, there are obviously others who disagree, otherwise Ellen would not be buying new pads faster than I buy White Castle hamburgers.

I saw her sitcom. It wasn't funny either. Apparently many agreed with me on this one. It got creamed. Another 50's expression.

I watched her talk show once. For about two minutes. Didn't like it. Why do they dance when they come on? Seems silly. But Ellen has her fan base and a loyal bunch they are.

More recently Ellen was hired by JC Penney to be their front man -- woman -- sorta like Pat Boone was the face of Chevrolet back in the 1950s. Pat was the all-American, squeeky clean, neato dude who really made the scene. That sold lots of cars.

Ellen, on the other hand, isn't all that hip. For some reason folks get the idea that someone in the bowels of JC Penney's ad department is more interested in selling Ellen's lifestyle than jeans, fabric and eyeliner. They also sell underpants; but not my size. We'll get to that in a minute.
Ellen's pad sold to Ryan Seacrest
for $49 million

In short, she a turn-off. She isn't hip. She ain't cookin'.

JC Penney's sales took a dive after inserting Ellen's face in their ad space. It's time to rethink. Maybe Larry the Cable Guy would be a better fit. Or Elmo.

Keep in mind that JC Penney, the founder, was a rigid fundamentalist Christian who refused to open his stores on Sundays. Were he alive today he'd be having a cow.

I don't mean to suggest that the marketing minds at JC Penney are infected with abject idiocy, I merely wonder if they're kin to the HR director. They fail to understand the mind of marketing. Shoppers, for example, don't think $5 for a medium pizza is a good deal. Those same shoppers will rush the store if you offer them one pizza for $10 with a second pizza free!

People don't like to think they're getting a deal. They like to think they're getting a special deal. JC Penney launched a marketing strategy that featured deep-discount prices. No coupons. They failed to grasp the notion the people actually do buy the sizzle, and not the steak.

I recommend the honchos at JC Penney purchase copies of The Mind of the Market by Michael Shermer and make them required reading for everyone rolling around the firm's marketing department in office chairs. It would be a better investment than Ellen.

That's not to trash Ellen. It's to wonder aloud how a publicly traded company accountable to stock holders could be so dumb as to hire a controversial spokesperson. Consider the outburst of angst had JCP hired Sarah Palin.

Last I checked, JC Penney's stock had fallen 26 percent since the first of the year. Kohl's, by comparison, was off less than 6 percent year to date, Macy's stock was up 10.1 percent and Sears was up nearly 65 percent.

The only marketing genius is the room is Ellen's agent.

In short it's time for Ellen to split the scene, go back to her kookie talk show and fracture her fan base where they can all really have a blast and she can roll in the dough.

Note to marketers everywhere: Hire spokespersons who have universal appeal.

Now to the underpants.

The last time I visited JC Penney (about 20 years ago), I was dismayed to discover the sales person in the men's underwear department was a middle aged woman. Who's idea was that? I bashfully asked her if she had undies in my size. It turns out she didn't know. But the guy across the store probably did. And so as I was standing at the counter with a few dozen other shoppers, the sales rep yelled across the store. The good news: No one knew my name. The bad news: Everyone in the store knew what size underpants I wear.

And that is so uncool.

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  1. You're not a very happy and positive person, are you? What a pointless article.
    Well, Mr. "Scientist", some other articles (that use more common sense and are based on facts more than prejudices) said that ellen campaign was very successful. jc penney had big problems long before ellen and with the current state of the economy, trend can't change over night. ellen is helping, not the other way around.
    Your article speaks more loudly about you than about Ellen.

  2. Well, Mr. "Scientist" . . .

    Most people call me "Mr. Smarty Pants."

    1. it IS hip to be square!