Last week, JCPenney announced Ellen Degeneres as their newest spokesperson. Personally, I think it’s a great decision. Ellen has an enormous, committed fan-base. She’s known for her up-beat attitude, kind nature, and simple style. From a business standpoint, it’s a perfect fit.
An ultra-conservative group calling themselves the One Million Moms disagrees. Loudly, as is the way of the radical fringe. They profess to speak for moms across the country in protest of JCP’s decision, based solely on the fact that Ellen is gay. They claim that by choosing Ellen for their latest campaign, JCP is pushing a pro-gay agenda. They also say that by abandoning traditional values in an attempt to attract new customers, JCP will lose long-time customers.
I really take offense when someone starts talking for me. I’m a mom. I have access to social media. I can speak up for myself. I don’t need or want an activist group professing to know what values I hold, or where I choose to do my shopping.
Tracey Gaughran-Perez (known around the internet as Sweetney) has found herself in the middle of organizing a protest of the protest. What started with a simple tweet, standing in support of JCPenney’s decision to keep Ellen, has become a shop-in. (She talks more about it here.)
By shopping at Penney’s, we’re showing JCP that the One Million Moms don’t speak for us. The JCPenney Shop-In is a show of support for standing against the bullies.
Can I take a moment and point out just how ludicrous this whole thing is? A conservative group doesn’t like who a major corporation picks as a spokesperson. They push for the corporation to fire the new spokesperson, based on what it calls “traditional values.” The corporation sticks to its decision. Is it just me? Am I the only one seeing that this is a protest against a BUSINESS for not having values?
Corporations don’t have values; they have an image. They sell things, in this case clothes and appliances. Their main objective is to make money, not pander to one fringe group of bullies who think it’s okay to spout hate and presume to speak for mothers everywhere.
JCPenney didn’t pick Ellen to further some imaginary “gay agenda.” As a member of the LGBT community, I wasn’t aware we had an agenda. Could be I missed that in the newsletter. No, JCPenney chose a spokesperson who would attract customers. They did it to make money. They did it for the same reasons Priceline picked William F*&@ing Shatner, Wrangler and Ford picked Mike Rowe, and V8 picked Jackie Chan. It’s called marketing.
The controversy came when One Million Moms decided to make an issue where none existed. They tried to force their “values” on the rest of us. They don’t like gay people. It is well within their right as Americans to hate anyone they want. It is not their right, however, to speak for me or push their “values” on me.
JCP could have given in. They do have an image to protect, after all, and it doesn’t look good for a company that’s based in the buckle of the bible belt to be caught up in controversy, especially when it involves homosexuality. But they stuck to their guns and took the risk that their image would be just fine, that Ellen wouldn’t tarnish their good name like the bullies would lead us to believe.
Are there some people who won’t shop with them anymore? Sure. But there are also people who will start shopping at Penney’s more often, like me. I hope you’ll join me.
If you go to JCP today, snap a picture and tweet it with the hashtag #jcpshopin. Maybe include @JCPenney and @TheEllenShow, just to let them know you support their decision to not fold to the anti-gay rhetoric.