JCPenny and the Hitler Teapot?

Sometimes something that does not seem like it should be a big issue, blows up entirely because of the use of social media. One person gets a hold of something, makes a comparison and shares it on social media and suddenly a company has a full blown scandal on their hands. If the company reacts quickly enough and in the right manner it is very easy to avoid scandal when an issue is really small.

This is exactly what happened in the case of JCP and the teapot that looked like something I am sure not one intended. The teapot bore a slight resemblance to Adolf Hitler, which is not something that a company would want one of their products looking like. A reddit user in Southern California noticed the resemblance when seeing the tea kettle on a billboard off of the 405 freeway and shared his thoughts online. The issue quickly took off on reddit and had many responses because so many people were talking about it. It  moved from reddit to other social media sights very quickly and soon big news outlets were picking up on it.


Although this is not what most would call a crisis because it was so small JC Penny responded immediately and in the proper manner. They took to their social media accounts and decided not to take themselves too seriously since it was not a super serious issue at hand. The company tweeted that “If we designed it to look like something, we would have gone with a snowman or something fun :)”. They knew that their audience just wanted to hear from them about the issue and see how the company was going to react so they responded in the most light-hearted manner that they could, to make sure that the issue did not get out of hand too quickly. People thought that this slip up was so funny that the tea kettle actually sold out online before JC Penny decided to take it down. They also had all of the bill boards displaying this tea pot taken down.

This is a perfect example of how to properly crisis communicate. JC Penny saw that there was a problem that they could handle and made sure to handle it immediately. Not only did they make sure that the issue was handled they did it in a manner that made they connected with their audience and made sure their audience felt understood. By taking to Twitter and almost making a joke out of the whole incident they made sure their audience knew that this was not intentional and that they did not do it to offend anyone. Also when their audience knew that the company was making a joke about it the tea kettle actually sold out because people thought the coincidence was so funny. So in the end this whole debacle turned into a great thing for JC Penny because they were able to gain more revenue through selling all of the tea pots and connect with their audience using humor.

One thought on “JCPenny and the Hitler Teapot?

  1. I found this post entertaining because it’s amazing how someone can take something from nothing and make a big deal out of it. I agree JCP handled this situation very well by responding quickly and in a light-hearted manner. The paragraphs are a bit on the long side, but it is easy to follow the story about how JCP stepped up to confront an issue that should have never been an issue to begin with.

    JCP connected with their customer base by being honest and forthcoming about the innocence of their tea kettle ad. These resulted in JCP selling out of the product and reaping the benefits of all those sales. JCP understood the issue and successfully managed it using their humorous approach.

    All in all, a very interesting post that shows how easy it is to be misunderstood.


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