It Could Cost Penneys

With the economy as it is, some established businesses are deliberatelyshaking things up to revitalize their own cultures and engage constituents. JCPenney is an example as the company kicks off a new advertising campaign introducing a new retail philosophy and culture. I think the company’s startling television ads with screaming people effectively attracts attention.

Obviously, the corporation is making a substantial investment in changing a very well-known brand. JCPenney should be congratulated for boldly breaking away from an old image and showing a fresh new face. In fact, I think our local JCPenney has done a superior job placing emphasis on the importance of good customer service; I’ve had great shopping experiences and have been made to feel as important as if I were patronizing a high-end retail store.

Sadly, in the middle of this bright and lively initiative, is what I consider a serious flaw. In addition to the television spots, JCPenney -- which is converting to JCP -- has distributed a glossy and beautifully designed catalog boasting products, pricing and their new approach to shopping. The pages display a variety of products at low prices that are to be available as they say, “everyday.” Prices are cited in this manner: “$40 everyday.”

This is not just incorrect word usage, but consistently incorrect on page after beautiful page.  According to basic grammar principles, “everyday” as one word is an adjective placed before or in front of a noun to describe that noun as something normal or routine. When used as two words, the term “every day” includes “every” as an adjective that describes the noun “day” meaning each day and which is how it should appear according to the catalog's design.

I realize that in the waning days of newspapers, copy editors are getting kicked to the curb. It becomes more apparent every day as we see more typos and issues in newsprint. And I know that social media dictates that we abbreviate and punctuate to fit within confined spaces, contributing to a diminished concern about spelling or grammar.

But using an incorrect word in a very new and expensive advertising blitz for such a well-regarded department store like JCPenney is shocking to me. Those of us who still care about spelling, punctuation and such things, notice these kinds of errors and marvel at how they were missed by an entire advertising agency team.

I went back and looked to see if this was perhaps an intentional gimmick that would be obvious somewhere within the catalog's narrative sections. And while that may very well be the case, I didn’t see anything that convinces me that it is so. I really think it’s just a terrible oversight.

I’ve shown the catalog to others and it does take a while for people to notice that “everyday” should actually appear as “every day.” Nevertheless, it’s an important detail and one that should not have been missed by paid professionals. JCP (I’m an early adopter of the new identity) is a great store that pays attention to customer service which these days immediately differentiates the store from competitors. But paying attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation and correct word usage is just as important. Dare I say, it still matters every day.