Monday, October 17, 2011

Et tu, Kohl's?

So apparently, FIAT isn’t the only company to use JLO as a spokesman.  Moreoever, yet another advertiser insists on using JLO in her natural habitat, the former estate of Jonas Bronck so lovingly bordered by the Hudson and Harlem Rivers, Long Island Sound and County Westchester, aka the Bronx.

I don’t want to turn this blog into the I-hate-JLO show, as a) I’d like to spark a broader conversation about marketing and b) I honestly don’t have anything against her.  But I really want to spark a discussion on what Kohl’s or FIAT could actually achieve with hiring JLO, and her borough, as a spokesperson.

As with FIAT, Kohl’s does not have a retailer location actually in the Bronx, yet it seems to see some value in associating with the one of the poorest and least healthy counties in the US.  I don’t want to dump on the Bronx; some of my favorite mothers-in-law and baseball teams come from there.  However, both marketers could do well by owning up to the formidable image problems of the Bronx.

More to the point, they could actually make the Bronx a key point of their marketing rather than just a backdrop.

Many marketers engage in cause marketing, strategically working with a non-profit organization to promote their brand in a corporate version of enlightened self-interest.  As we noted in a previous post, Dick’s Sporting Goods has allied with an organization that promotes concussion awareness among high school coaches.  Not coincidentally, this effort directly concerns a product often bought at Dick’s: football helmets.

Why doesn’t FIAT or Kohl’s work with a charity aligned with one of the Bronx’s many ills, such as hunger, poverty, poor education or gang activity?  Would it really be hard for Kohl’s to promise that a piece of their revenues would go to a worthy charity?  Target does it.  Hyundai USA fights childhood cancer.  Why can’t FIAT support childhood obesity or asthma, common urban problems?  JLO would also benefit from an additional charitable interest.

In short, both FIAT and Kohl’s have chosen to focus on JLO and her native Bronx for reasons that do not immediately translate into brand equity.  However, they both have the opportunity to make the association a meaningful marketing activity.

What would you do in their shoes?  Kindly share your ideas in the comments.

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