I, too, have seen some of the "Elsewhere" commercials and can only comment on them from my professional experience.
My exposure to the commercials has been mostly from viewing what would be considered "fringe" cable stations which air old rerun programming. Since RJ drastically cut the advertising budget in the early fall of 2012, JCP probably has to settle for whatever airtime is available. It is my opinion that the return to sales strategy was not planned so much as it was forced on RJ. This new strategy is simply a knee-jerk reaction to his failed policies (no more sales, no more customers, shrinking sales revenue, etc.). This new approach, forced on RJ, was rushed into production.
I, personally, have not seen any spots airing on network programming, so I assume most of the commercials are airing in the local/spot markets, which can be cheaper and less expensive than a network buy, depending on the number of local markets in the mix.
The production values are very low. There is no voiceover element to reinforce the message that JCP is a low-priced leader. No words to convey the excitement of the JCP shopping experience. No voiceover talent means no residuals to pay...a cost-cutting move. Also, note that the faces of the on-camera talent are not visible...another cost-cutting move. There is no tag line/positioning line, no mention of a JCP website, no music or jingle to reinforce memorability.
When I first saw one of the commercials, I was flipping around and thought I had accidentally hit the mute button. Each commercial uses thirty-seconds to promote one item. To me, this is a waste of airtime...each commercial could easily feature three different items/price comparisons. Using thirty-seconds to focus on one cardigan sweater is not a productive/effective use of the airtime.
As others have questioned...where exactly is "Elsewhere"? Is JCP comparing their prices to the Macy's price? The Target price? The viewer can only guess. Also, the viewer has to rely on the honesty of JCP's message and assume there is some validity in the prices compared...this from a company that was recently caught trying to get suppliers to artificially inflate the MSRP on items.
The "Elsewhere" commercials are nothing more than a slide show...cheap, boring, outdated and dull. Just like JCP itself.
For more info(insider info not to be disclosed on this board) on "elsewhere" go to the JCPenney website and under the "elsewhere" price is a "learn more about elsewhere" link right under it - - - I found the disclaimer on MSRP about "They are from our suppliers" just as innocently as if the supplier voluntarily submitted that info.
how we compare pricing
learn more about elsewhere: The “Elsewhere” price reflects a comparison to the price of that or a comparable item found online or in-store at national specialty, home, or online-only retailers during the last 90 days. Comparison prices are rounded down to the nearest dollar.
learn more about msrp: MSRP represents a suggested price provided by our suppliers. The MSRP may be rounded down to the nearest whole dollar.
learn more about appraised: “Appraised at” value is the total Estimated Retail Replacement Value for Insurance Purposes provided to jcp by the International Gemological Information a Division of International Gemological Institute, Inc. as of the date of appraisal based on a representative sample of the production run for such item. The date of appraisal may not have occurred in the last 90 days.
In determining the Estimated Retail Replacement Value for Insurance Purposes, the appraiser/gemologist accumulates by national survey today’s market prices as well as current costs for labor, materials, creative design, certification, the precious stone and metal markets comparable sales data and offers from reputable firms. Because costs and margins may differ substantially from retailer to retailer based on their locality, various services offered, and marketing methods, an average of these costs and margins is used to determine an estimated retail replacement value for insurance purposes. These estimated retail replacement values for insurance purposes are not for investment purposes and are not a representation or warranty that the article(s) will realize that value if offered for sale at auction or otherwise.
Let's face it, advertising isn't going to turn this thing around. One big problem has been mentioned in other posts. That is of the ability to service the customer. Say you turn it around---the advertising hits the mark and droves of people rush into the store. What happens? Not enough associates to handle the rush. So, what happens next? People have a bad experience and either leave before buying or suffer thought the experience and never return again.
Lancer, I've worked in media in the past, and your observations are right on the money. Thirty seconds can be an expensive eternity in TV ad time if the message isn't presented with impact. And the cost-cutting is as obvious in these spots as it is inside the stores themselves.
There are, of course, pitfalls in trying to take the "Low Price" position. A company has to pare overhead expenses to the bone...cut advertising expenses, cut service personnel, etc. Profit margins get squeezed. The "Low Price" position eventually becomes a competition among competitors to see which one can bleed the longest and still remain standing. It is a very difficult position to win and maintain.