Cover Girl spokeswoman Ellen DeGeneres has entered into a new partnership with JC Penney, a company that pulled out of sponsorship of her landmark coming out on The Ellen Show in 1997. The irony is that now that JC Penney has evolved, antigay groups are threatening to boycott the company.
DeGeneres spoke about the partnership with Penneys on The Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this week, informing the audience that she worked in the women’s apparel section of a JC Penney’s store in Louisiana back in the day.
“It was the seventies, so if you were looking for tube tops and flared trousers I was your girl,” Ellen joked. The funny lady went on to say that big changes were happening at JC Penney.
“They’re undergoing an amazing transformation. They’re redesigning their stores, reimagining their styles, and they have some of the most creative, brilliant minds in the business working to transform the entire shopping experience,” DeGeneres said.
But back in 1997 JC Penney wanted nothing to do with DeGeneres, who came out as a lesbian in her personal life and on her sitcom. DeGeneres famously came out on the cover of Time while her alter ego Ellen Morgan came out in an episode entitled “The Puppy Episode.” JC Penney and Chrysler pulled sponsorship of The Ellen Show over pressure from Rev. Donald E. Wildmon and the American Family Association, which threatened to spearhead boycotting the show’s advertisers, according to an article in South Carolina’s Herald-Journal.
Now, the conservative group One Million Moms, according to LezGetReal, is threatening to boycott JC Penney over the company’s partnership with DeGeneres.
“Funny that JC Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families,” according to One Million Moms’ blog. “More sales will be lost than gained unless they replace their spokesperson quickly. Unless JC Penney decides to be neutral in the culture war then their brand transformation will be unsuccessful.”
One Million Moms took umbrage with JC Penney President Michael Francis' support of the DeGeneres partnership. Francis said the following in a press release:
"Importantly, we share the same fundamental values as Ellen. At JC Penney, we couldn’t think of a better partner to help us put the fun back into the retail experience. Moving forward, we’ll be focused on being in sync with the rhythm of our customers’ lives and operating in a ‘Fair and Square’ manner that is rooted in integrity, simplicity and respect. We’re thrilled that she’s joining our team to help convey the exciting transformation under way.”
One Million Moms blog responded to Francis with a call for a boycott stating, "By jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon, JC Penney is attempting to gain a new target market and in the process will lose customers with traditional values that have been faithful to them over all these years."
While One Million Moms may be up in arms over DeGeneres’ partnership her studio audience appeared thrilled when she announced that the company seeks to sell more products made in the USA in an attempt to bring jobs back to the country. The audience also cheered like crazy when DeGeneres announced that each member was getting a $250 JC Penney gift card.
Watch DeGeneres’ announcement below: