A Flurry of Cease & Desists: JCP, Michaels and Belk

JC Penney says: Shop at Kohl's!

The lawyers were out in full force today as we received cease-and-desists from three of the four stores we posted.

Things kicked off almost immediately as we received a phone call from JC Penney no less than a couple hours after our original post. JC Penney informed us that if we wanted to remain in their affiliate program, we would have to remove the ad; we chose to leave their affiliate program. Later in the day, we received a letter from JC Penney’s legal counsel asking us to remove their ad because "the copy posted does not appear to be a final version. It may contain inaccurate information that will be confusing to our consumers. At the least, it is not an accurate representation of the final marketing piece."

All pretty standard for a Black Friday C&D, right? Except that before we received the C&D, JC Penney’s affiliate manager, Lori Caldwell, sent out the print-quality version of their advertisement to all affiliates.

There is no difference between the original advertisement we posted and the one sent to us by JCP, which make us wonder what their lawyer meant by "not [appearing] to be a final version" when both versions are identical.

It's very interesting because JC Penney’s actions directly contradict their words. We were hoping JC Penney would follow the lead of market leaders Kohl's and Macy's, who are both prominently featured on BFAds, but that would make too much sense.

Please feel free to voice your thoughts and views towards Lori Caldwell at lcaldwe4@jcpenney.com

In a more traditional style, both the Michaels and Belk ads have also been removed. Neither will be reposted. They will all be getting t-shirts.

With the exception of Walmart, it's very interesting that all of the cease and desist letters have come from smaller stores, while larger have remained quiet (some even supportive). It's definitely an interesting dynamic.

Are larger stores more familiar with the idea that once their ad leaks, they'll never be able to stop its distribution? Are the larger stores more confident in their ad’s prices that they don't mind that people see them early? Is Michaels really scared that Joann Fabrics and Craft Warehouse are going to alter their ads to undercut Michaels?

We'll never get a straight answer out of any retailer (even the ones that don't object to their ad being posted), but it is something to think about.

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