Retailer scores the sponsored accessory wall and hopes to leverage reality show viewership.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. has already brought “Project Runway” into its stores, and now its brand hits the runway through a new partnership that lands the department store retailer as a fixture on the design-competition reality show.
J.C. Penney JCP, -2.70% will be the exclusive retailer for “Project Runway” for seasons 16 and 17, as well as “Project Runway All Stars” for season 7. The retailer will sponsor a design challenge during each season, with the winning design featured online and in select stores the morning after the episode airs. And the winner of each season will have the chance to collaborate with J.C. Penney on a capsule of merchandise for the Project Runway Collection.
Currently, the Project Runway Collection has a summer preview in stores, and a full collection will be coming on September 8, both inspired by the season 15 winner of “Project Runway,” Erin Robertson.
See also: Bon Ton Stores, Sears, J. Crew lead list of retailers with high risk of default
In addition, the J.C. Penney Accessory Wall will be a part of the show, and winning looks from “Project Runway All Stars” will be featured online.
“This strategic collaboration enables us to work directly with up-and-coming design talent from ‘Project Runway’ and increase our assortment of contemporary apparel, while gaining a fresh perspective on what women are seeking when curating the ultimate wardrobe,” said John Tighe, J.C. Penney’s chief merchant, in a statement.
J.C. Penney has been trying a variety of strategies to spark business growth, including the addition of new toy shops in its stores, a B2B program catering to the hotel industry, and rebranded salons. Experts believe that while they’re doing things to be more competitive, it isn’t yet adding up to a leadership position.
See also: J.C. Penney is right to try new things, but it needs to do more to compete with Amazon, analysts say
Nonetheless, reality TV shows have loyal viewers and have been known to drive sales at affiliated stores. In June, Vera Bradley Inc. VRA, -0.10% announced that it was extending its partnership with the TLC program “Girl Starter” after two bags featured on the show sold out online.
Read: Vera Bradley bags sell out after appearing on TLC reality show
“Such exclusive offers have proven successful for retailers in the past, but the question here will be whether J.C. Penney can successfully convert ‘Project Runway’ fans into J.C. Penney shoppers, and drive customer lifetime value,” said Jared Wiesel, partner at consulting firm Revenue Analytics. “J.C. Penney’s partnership with Project Runway won’t single handedly turn around its apparel woes, but this type of move should provide at least a short-term lift for them.”
J.C. Penney closed Monday down 2.7%, and shares are down nearly 35% for the year so far. The S&P 500 index SPX, -0.07% is up 10.3% for 2017 so far.