The Post Wherein I Take Credit for a Campaign I Wasn’t Consulted On

J.C. Penney announced yesterday a campaign whereby they will ask customers to round-up their change to the nearest dollar and send the money to the retailer’s long-standing efforts on behalf of afterschool programs.

The campaign is called ‘Pennies From Heaven’ and the goal is to generate 100 million pennies, or $1 million. Pennies is also selling a limited-edition change purse for $9.99 designed by Mark-Kate and Ashley Olsen, the twin sisters who were once primarily actors and now are primarily a brand. There’s also a Facebook component, a ringtone, and promotions with Foursquare and Twitter.

As of this writing, the penny counter at says they’ve generated 130,711,075 pennies. J.C. Penney’s Afterschool Program primarily benefits The Boys and Girls Club of America, the Y, the United Way, FIRST, a science and technology nonprofit, and my old friends at 4-H.

So how do I take credit for any of this?

My post on March 25, 2008 was called, no kidding, ‘Pennies from Heaven.’ Now, parenthetically, neither J.C. Penney nor I coined the expression 'Pennies from Heaven.' Instead, it was the name of the 1936 movie starring Bing Crosby. Bing and the movie made the title song by Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston a huge hit.

In the post I reviewed several change round-up efforts, including one from Bank of America that wasn’t a cause marketing campaign, but instead an enforced savings effort.

Here’s what I wrote at the time:
“A more sophisticated version might involve a retailer programming a key in a cash register that rounds up the cost of purchase to the next Euro, Renminbi, Yen, Pound, Dollar or Rupee. So if the transaction comes to €22.67 Euros, the cashier would ask if you would like to round up the transaction to an even €23 Euros, with €0.33 Euros going to the cause.”
Later in the same post I wrote:
“The second one is my own brainstorm. But feel free to steal it.”
Little did I suspect that that J.C. Penney would take me so literally.

But no big deal. J.C. Penney can just send me a one penny for every dollar the campaign generates and I’ll call it good.

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