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Parents Say JC Penney Ad Promotes Bullying

Last updated on Thursday, August 15, 2013

(UNDATED) - Clothing retailer J.C. Penney is taking some heat for a back-to-school advertisement that some shoppers say promotes bullying.

The commercial features a group of children with voice-over from a mom who has to buy clothes for her son's upcoming school year.

She says, "This stuff can make or break your entire year." The narration airs over a shot with a pre-teen boy looking around as he sits alone at a school lunch table.

Dozens of parents went on J.C. Penney's Facebook page, saying the commercial promotes bullying, because it shows a child sitting alone based on the clothes he is wearing.

Other parents pointed out that the ad not only puts pressure on children, but also places a heavy burden on cash-strapped parents to buy the latest outfits for their kids.

Many angry parents vowed to spend their back-to-school budgets elsewhere after watching the commercial.

J.C. Penney said the TV commercial aired earlier this summer, but that it's no longer part of its current TV campaign. A spokesperson said it was already scheduled to stop airing as new ads rolled out.

A company spokesperson says it was not J.C. Penney's intent to "trivialize or promote bullying." It responded to a number of Facebook comments with a similar statement. The company said it also supports a number of anti-bullying campaigns.

Upset parents is the last thing J.C. Penney needs as it is struggling to keep customers. Sales have fallen in the last two years after shoppers rejected the store's strategy of moving away from short-lived discounts and sales.

The company's stock has dropped over 27% in the past month and are down 35% this year.

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