JCPenney will stick with Ellen DeGeneres in the wake of conservative protests

Here and Now

Ellen DeGeneres doesn’t often talk about her sexual orientation on her popular talk show.

But this week, she did. And it was for a very specific reason. A conservative group, One Million Moms, has called for a boycott of J.C.Penney Company, because the company chose DeGeneres as its new spokeswoman. DeGeneres is gay, and that’s upset the group.

But JCPenney isn’t budging and is standing behind DeGeneres, who used to work for the company.

“This organization doesn’t think I should be the spokesperson because I’m gay. So for those of you just tuning in for the first time, it’s true. I’m gay. I hope you were sitting down. I hate to break it to you this way,” DeGeneres told her audience. “So they wanted to get me fired, and I am proud and happy to say that J.C. Penney’s stuck by their decision.”

DeGeneres also explained her values to her audience, including being kind. She also pointed out comments from Million Moms who supported her in comments on the group’s website. 

Danielle Douglas, reporter for the Washington Post, said JCPenney’s president cited DeGeneres’ values when he announced the company was sticking by her.

Douglas said choosing DeGeneres is an effort by JCPenney to appeal to a broader audience than it’s historically reached. It’s also part of a broader rebranding of the company, led by new President Ron Johnson, who was hired away from Apple’s retail division.

“Apple is known for the unique way in which it has stream-lined its efforts to be a retailer, and I think JCPenney is taking the same approach to their efforts,” Douglas said.

JCPenney is rolling out a simpler pricing structure that puts sales in three buckets: everyday discounts, monthly specials and clearance sales. 

The pricing model is a tip of the hat to Apple, which rarely has sales but has products and prices that draw consumers, Douglas said.

“JCPenney’s may not have that same level of product, but that’s not necessarily the case now that part of their strategy is welcoming new designers, streamlining the brands they have,” Douglas said.

It’s also a bit of a tip to Target, which has had great success bringing designer-name products into their stores.

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