JCPenney joins retailers taking on Periscope

JCPenney is the latest retailer to use Periscope, hosting Eva Longoria for a Q&A session with her fans on the platform yesterday.

Longoria was live on JCPenney’s Periscope account at approximately 10 am CST, introducing fans to her new bedding collection and answering their questions from an exclusive launch event for the collection held in Los Angeles. It was the first foray onto Periscope, the live video streaming service from Twitter.

“Applications like Periscope allow a brand (or person) to create an urgency in the content they are creating — viewers tune in ‘live’ and need to do so right away, or they’ll likely miss it,”  Sean Ryan, director of social and mobile marketing at JCPenney, told Digiday. “Customers were able to engage directly with Eva from the event— she answered a wide-range of questions from the audience in real time.”

JCPenney declined to say how many people watched the stream. For a wide audience, Periscope is still mostly unknown, as evidenced by the fact that JCPenney sent several tweets directing its 1.2 million followers to download the app in advance of the broadcast.

In hosting Longoria on Periscope, JCPenney joins the several other retailers and brands that have tested live-streaming apps Periscope and its competitor Meerkat — attractive for their ability to instantly reach a large number of people in real-time. DKNY, Marc Jacobs, H&M Canada, Puma and Urban Outfitters were some early adopters that gave closet tours while auto makers like Mercedes Smart and Nissan introduced their new cars during the New York International Auto Show using the apps.

Partnering with Longoria is also a strategic two-pronged move for Penney, which doesn’t typically partner with celebrities: an effort to push sales in the home section as well as appeal to its Hispanic base, among whom Longoria is extremely popular. Its home department suffered substantially during it sales slump in 2013. Focusing on the Hispanic segment has also been a priority for the brand since last year, when it revamped its marketing strategy and identified the modern Latina woman as a key target.

It seems as though JCPenney is still figuring out the app, however, as it tweeted to its fans asking them to download the app to check out the recorded version of Longoria’s Periscope appearance after it was over. The gaffe: not realizing that only those users that were already following the brand on Periscope could do so. The tweet was later removed.  The campaign though, isn’t over, with JCPenney hitting Twitter users today, with a chat with Longoria planned for 2 pm CT along the lines of Periscope.

— JCPenney (@jcpenney) April 22, 2015

“Doing anything ‘live’ always comes with its risks as it can be difficult to control the video (and the message) with live productions,” Ryan said. “But that also forces your brand to be a bit more scrappy — which I believe customers appreciate — and makes for more authentic content.”

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