J.C. Penney ad puts gay Texas couple in spotlight

DALLAS, June 5 |
Wed Jun 6, 2012 5:18am IST

DALLAS, June 5 (Reuters) – A J.C. Penney ad for
Father’s Day featuring a gay Texas couple and their two children
has angered a national conservative organization, but the couple
says they’ve been bombarded with mostly positive feedback from
friends and strangers around the country.

The print ad in a small June catalog for the Plano,
Texas-based retailer shows Cooper Smith and Todd Koch of Dallas
laughing and playing with their 3-year-olds, Mason and Claire.
It reads, “First Pals – What makes Dad so cool? He’s the swim
coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver – all
rolled into one. Or two.”

J.C. Penney’s advertising campaigns have used more people
from more diverse backgrounds since Ron Johnson became the CEO
of the mid-priced department store chain last November. Before
joining J.C. Penney, Johnson was Apple Inc’s senior
vice president of retail.

The Father’s Day ad with two Dads follows a May print
catalog ad for Mother’s Day showing a lesbian couple with their
children and the hiring of openly gay entertainer Ellen
DeGeneres as a company spokeswoman featured in TV commercials.

“Of course, some people have told us what we are doing is
vile, disgusting and unnatural,” Smith told Reuters on Tuesday.
“Growing up gay, that isn’t something we haven’t heard before.”

One Million Moms responded to the DeGeneres hiring with a
call for a boycott. The group reacted to the May ad with pleas
for members to gently pressure store managers for more neutral

This time, One Million Moms, an affiliate of the American
Family Association, is encouraging members to boycott stores,
contact store managers and return catalogs with the statement
“Refused . . . Return to Sender” written on them.

On its website, One Million Moms said under a headline,
“Avoid JCP this Father’s Day,” that J.C. Penney was “continuing
down the same path of promoting sin in their advertisements.”

“We must remain diligent and stand up for Biblical values
and truth,” One Million Moms said in the statement on its
website. “Scripture says multiple times that homosexuality is
wrong, and God will not tolerate this sinful nature.”

J.C. Penney officials did not immediately respond to a
request for comment.

Smith said a friend with connections to the Dallas
area-based department store operator recommended that the couple
and their children be included in the ad. The family – Smith
runs a public relations company and Koch works in corporate
finance – was selected and photos were taken in February, Smith

“We hadn’t heard a thing about it until the ad appeared last
week,” Smith said.

The family appeared on a Dallas TV show on Tuesday morning
to discuss the ad, which is included in the small June color
catalog mailed to customers’ homes.

“It represents a large group of diverse families,” Smith
told Reuters. “We are just seen on one page.”

Article source: http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/06/05/usa-advertising-jcpenney-idINL1E8H5KUD20120605

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