Melissa Villaseñor Is Penny James in JCPenney's Tuneful Holiday Ads

'We Got Your Holiday,' says in-house campaign

SNL alum Melissa Villaseñor and her sparkly backup singers shimmy and sway through the aisles, sampling merchandise and hyping holiday deals as JCPenney kicks off the festive season.

Meet "Penny James and the Shopettes," unleashed today in a pair of tuneful spots created by the retailer's in-house team and designed to tout select Black Friday offers all November long:

The "Penny James" character debuted this past spring, and her return finds Villaseñor in fine form, espousing a shop-til-you-drop mentality with cheeky grins and gestures that let us in on the joke.

"She is the optimistic embodiment of our JCPenney customer—the all-in, enthusiastic shopper who loves the thrill of the holidays," Carl Byrd, JCP VP, creative and brand synergy, tells Muse. "We were blown away by how Melissa made singing a single word like 'sweaters' really funny, and by the physical comedy she brought to each scene. She was trying new lines on the fly. 'Look who's cookin' now' was all her."

Tagged "We Got Your Holiday," the fresh work boasts gleefully energetic direction from Dewey Nicks, and Villaseñor sells the message with style. These spots play almost like SNL parodies of JCP ads, minus the snark—a sweet stocking stuffer.

A second set of commercials breaking next week, also helmed by Nicks, takes a different musical approach, with diverse real families raising their voices in "Joy, Comfort and Peace," a familiar refrain from past JCP yuletide campaigns.

"Rather than taking a traditional approach of featuring actors, we wanted to bring real families of all backgrounds together," says Byrd. "We started with a casting call and ultimately handpicked these six families to represent the faces and voices we see in our stores every day. This is JCPenney's holiday card to America!"

Naturally, the chain, beset by flagging fortunes in recent years—and mixed results of late—hopes folks respond by showing up in stores and buying gifts online. It's early days yet, but the overall seasonal retail forecast isn't so merry, with Deloitte predicting sales increasing about 5 percent, compared to 15 percent growth last year.


John Aylward, SVP Chief Marketing Officer    
Bill Cunningham, VP, Marketing Strategy
Kendra Horne, Sr. Director Product Marketing/Integration
Jenn Stern, Director Product Marketing
Stephanie Locke, Director, Marketing Communication
Brenda Ortiz Tobar, Sr. Specialist 
Carl Byrd, VP Creative & Brand Synergy
Sheazanne Ferlita, Creative Director
Michelle Freeman, Sr. Copy Manager
Brooke Diaz, Sr. Copy Manager
Betsy Jones Burgmeier, Sr. Art Manager 
Ariel Saura-Bretschger, Sr. Art Director 
John Mathias, Art Director
Maria Martinez, HM Copywriter
Tara Geraghty, Sr. Director Creative Services & Operations
Jamie Sancen, Director Photography Execution
Bertha Salazar, Manager Sr. Stylist
Amanda Williams, Asst. Styling Director
Dana Boone, Sr Director Publicity
Elizabeth Weber, Project Manager
Kathleen Torres, Executive Producer

Dewey Nicks, Director
Richard Goldstein, Executive Producer
Ron Cicero, Executive Producer
Christien Tuttle, Head of Production
Richard Martin, Producer    
Jacob Esquivel, Production Manager
Noel Henry, Production Coordinator    

Logan Hefflefinger, Editor
Seth Olson - Animation/VFX Artist
Jake Odgers - Assistant Editor/Junior Animation Artist
Jessica Berry, Executive Producer

Brian Flores – Executive Creative Director/Founder
Kyle Flores – Executive Producer

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