A Memo to JCPenney Staff

RE: Recent product gaffes.

Team members: those of you on Facebook, Twitter, or any part of the internet in April may be familiar with JCPenney’s so-called “period skirt.” It’s actually a white Worthington side-slit pencil skirt featuring a stunning “infrared floral” design. In any case, this incident marks the latest in a string of technical issues experienced at our Plano headquarters. The Board of Directors called for an internal review to get to the bottom of the skirt’s origins, as well as those of other problematic products. I would like to take this opportunity to share the Review Team’s findings.

Let us first revisit 2010, when a cowl-neck top was infamously offered in the color “Chewbacca pink.” After a two-month investigation involving significant travel, the Review Team discovered JCPenney outsourced many departments to China that year. One such department was Product Color Descriptions. As it turns out, a decades-long Star Wars ban in that country meant many Chinese, including the copywriter in question, had only ever viewed a black-market bootleg of the film—a camcorder video of such poor quality that the entire feature was awash in jewel tones. Chewbacca’s fur appears unequivocally magenta. Thus the copywriter’s honest mistake. 

The copywriter was released from the Company when Product Color Descriptions returned to Plano HQ in 2011. The Review Team conducted a thorough debriefing with our current copywriter (because of budget cuts, all other copywriters were released in 2015), and we are assured he has only viewed normal versions of Star Wars.

This brings us to 2011, when our Tween Department debuted a back-to-school line with a long-sleeve tee that read, “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” The message did not go over well with the Jezebel.com crowd. I will stress that our Corporate Vision is firmly in line with “girl power.” JCPenney would not be considered the world’s top seller in “Girlz Rule, Boyz Drool” tanks if that weren’t the case. That being said, the Review Team found that this particular Tween designer was, in fact, too pretty to do her work. The designer’s brother created the tee in a fit of passive aggression.

The Tween designer was released from the Company during the 2012 budget cuts. Our Review Team recommends the use of a Homely Index, a comprehensive analysis in which new hires must fall within a specified parameter of beauty—not good-looking enough to adversely affect production but not too ugly to disrupt team synergy. 

Circling back to our most recent incident: the “period skirt.” I have heard grumblings of nepotism, and while I admit the designer happens to be my niece, I am fully capable of objectivity on this matter. Let’s just say that the runner-up ribbon that “Blooming Lotus” earned in the prestigious Farmers Branch Art Competition speaks for itself. My colleagues who work directly under me agree that her artwork translates perfectly to affordable women’s apparel. She was promoted.

All of this to say, after meeting with Finance and discovering that these controversial items generated all of JCPenney’s revenues for the past five years, the Board and I have concluded that the Company can only be saved by going in a completely new and exciting direction. We will begin a quiet transition, slowly rolling out one product at a time to effectively bank on the “any press is good press” concept. 

Next week JCPenney will begin selling the Liz Claiborne breastmilk blouse ($23.99). This will be followed by the Stafford lipstick-collar oxford ($34.99), the “Too Woman to Drive” T-shirt ($17.99), and a racerback tank in “Wilson from Cast Away purple” ($14.99). 

Imagine, if you will, a Spencer Gifts the whole family can enjoy. Our stores will soon be 100,000 square feet of affordable gag-gift attire, making it the ultimate white elephant destination. We are confident that by entering the prank market, JCPenney has finally found its niche in the 21st century. As our old slogan goes: when it fits, you feel it.


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