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"Everybody Gets What They Want On Valentine's" – JCPenney

Today, I watched some television. Hard to believe that someone with such an apparently intense disdain for TV's ads would "stoop" to sitting through a few, right? Well, it depends. Some shows are on equal footing with the ads they display. By that I mean that the show puts you in a mood where you'll enjoy ads of similar content. But other times, the situation is just incredibly different. Like watching "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." That show is so far above anything else on television that it makes the accompanying ads just seem pointless. There's no hope for the ads to be "as good" as the show. So I tend to mute them.

At one point, watching a muted ad today, which may or may not have been broadcast during "Terminator," I realized this specific ad can be interpreted differently when there's no sound to confuse you. Yes, I do mean "confuse you," because there are hidden messages in this ad that you probably wouldn't pick up on while listening to some disembodied sales voice try to convince you do go out and buy.

This was a Valentines Day ad from JCPenney. Maybe you've seen it. Maybe you will see it. It probably won't make an impression on you, unless you mute it. Then you'd see what I saw.

What did I see? A heart-shaped pennant on a necklace, swinging back and forth. "Your eyes are getting heavy…" No big deal, right? I think they did that with two different necklaces. "Get her one of these, she'll love it," was the idea. But that's not what they really said. The truth is far more interesting.

At one point on the screen, there was a very clear message. On a solid back background, bright white letters spelled out a sentence similar to this: "Everybody Gets What They Want On Valentine's." Yeah, they sure do, next commercial…


Let's think about this. JCPenney is selling jewelry, more specifically jewelry for women. Who buys this in preparation for Valentine's Day? Guys do. So if everybody gets what they want, and women will get what they want (jewelry), what will guys get?

What do guys want?

Guys want sex. JCPenney is saying, "Buy her our jewelry, and she'll be sure to put out."

That's just the "subtle" vibe I got from watching a harmless commercial without the sound. I guess it's like playing a rock record backwards…

Judas Priest is God!

**Note: After seeing the ad a second time, finally with the sound on, it has become apparent that the hypnosis idea was an intended gag. One of the audible voices says something along the lines of, "When you're happy, I'm happy." Then the primary message pops up, something like, "This is the day everybody gets what they want." In this new context, I think my original conclusion still makes sense.

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One Response to “"Everybody Gets What They Want On Valentine's" – JCPenney”

  1. Diane Germano Says:

    Agnes Moorehead is God, Judas Priest may fit somewhere in the Saint category. This responder has recently done some investigation into the world of commercial television. Including, but not limited to, personal experience at my own expense. A strike can bring out extraordinary behavior in many writers.

    Having dubious access to what actually goes on in the business of commercials, the directors, ad agency fancy, starving actors, and those writers…faceless, always nameless. Madison Avenue's history these days. Often, the ad agency blindly feels around for anyone who can represent themselves as "commercial writers."

    Your JC Penny example, while from a unique perspective, is a complete cop-out. The one single thing any ad agency will never get out of its collective mind is that sex sells. Rule of thumb in commercials since they were conceived. We used to call it subliminal suggestion, I believe.

    After all my investigation, time and wasted energy I did learn that.