Powered by social media and spurred by a conservative group’s effort to take on retailer JCPenney over its decision to use openly gay celebrity Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman, a group of bloggers led a mass “shop in” at various store locations Sunday across the United States.
While it is difficult to measure how much impact the campaign had, shoppers uploaded several pages of pictures on a Facebook page Monday of various wares bought from JCPenney, sending a united smackdown to One Million Moms, an advocacy group that labels itself as a project of the American Family Association.
In a statement on its website last week, One Million Moms asked its supporters to call managers at local stores to register their complaints after JCPenney announced its partnership with DeGeneres in January. The group tried to flood the corporate office with calls but that didn't work.
“As consumers, what we find tragic is a corporate office and customer service department that not only transfers customers to voicemail, but even hangs up on them rather than verses hearing their concerns,” a statement on the group's website said.
It continued: “Since the corporate office doesn't consider your call important, please call your local store manager. Local managers are more likely to listen to your concerns and pass them along to the corporate office.
Enter the retail countermove. The “shop-in” was spearheaded by mother and blogger Tracey Gaughran-Perez, 41, of Sweetney.com. In a statement on her website, she said, “The Million Moms are a terrible faction, a mutant splinter group. Scrappy Doo to the average Mom’s Scooby. The Ewoks infesting Return Of The Jedi. All the Matrixes that followed The Matrix. On the surface they might look like moms and sound like moms, but they’re just not right, people. Something had to be done.”
Gaughran-Perez said Sunday she was able to participate in the shop-in despite a sick child at home. “Take that, One Million Moms! Not only didn’t y’all get Ellen Degeneres fired, but you succeeded in actually making JCPenney MO MONEY. Your campaign of hate has gloriously backfired. Have a lovely Sunday!” she wrote on her blog.
On the JCPenney Shop-In Facebook page, many people saw the campaign as a royal smackdown of a hateful group, rather than a win for DeGeneres.
Ariel S. said: “Guys, it just has to be said! THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS SUPPORTING GAY RIGHTS. i don't mean to get all link-troll about it, but it just makes me sad that we are being so uncritical. want to support ellen? write her a letter!”
Reached by ABC News last week, JCPenney continued to stand its ground. “Standing with our partner Ellen DeGeneres – a person who is renowned for her honesty, integrity, kindness and humor – has been a privilege for all of us at jcpenney. We appreciate all of the kind words and actions in support of our decision,” said Kate Coultas, a spokeswoman for JCPenney, ABC News reported.
Also on Sunday, a “Gay Day” flash mob took place outside a JCPenney store in New York City in appreciation of the store’s support of DeGeneres, according to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).