Saatchi's 'The Breakfast Club' A 'Mean Girls' Failed 'Fetch'


Saatchi & Saatchi's The Breakfast Club campaign for JCPenney has been crapped by everyone on since it launched. Today, it's Rebecca Cullers' turn. On AdFreak, Rebecca does the math, writing, "I was 3 years old when The Breakfast Club came out in 1985. I didn't know the film existed until I was in college, where it was included in a class on culturally significant movies for Gen X. Now, there's more or less a decade separating me from today's incoming high-school students. Does anyone really think they will get the reference?"

She is absolutely correct in her analysis of the problem and for anyone at Saatchi or JCPenney not to have realized this is further confirmation far too many advertisers and their agencies, despite believing the contrary, are completely out of touch with reality.

Yes, The Breakfast Club is a great movie. But, the direction Saatchi took has to be one of the most idiotically anachronistic moves an agency/marketer could have ever made. It is a total disconnect with the people they are trying to reach. Sure, the movies speaks to teens but it speaks to mid-eighties teens! That's over 20 fucking years ago!

Granted, teens of today, in a large sense, do face the same issues teens of the eighties - or any decade - face. The big issues never change. Self-esteem. Peer pressure. Cliquishness. Authority. Relationships. But the cultural foundation surrounding those issues changes dramatically about every ten years. The actors in The Breakfast Club are now the age of the parents of the very teens JCPenney is attempting to attract. Who really wants to dance in a school library with their parents?

I'd like to know who at Saathchi actually thought this was a good idea. I'd love to hear the rationale behind it. I can't believe the client went for it. Just do the math It makes no sense. Even I, someone archaically old enough to have seen the movie as a teen knows this. It was most certainly relevant to me at the time. Extremely so. But to a teen of today. No way. Total FAIL.

Each day this campaign airs lends increasing support to the notion that fake Speed Dressing ad was spot on strategy and should have bee n approved by JCPenney in place of the idiotic The Breakfast Club campaign.

by Steve Hall    Jul-24-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Bad, Brands, Campaigns, Opinion, Trends and Culture   

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You mean to say Ad agencies are filled with creative hipsters averaging 40 years old who egotistically think that they can speak to the younger generation? I do however wonder how old the designers of video games, cool gadgets and social networking apps are? Doubt their teenagers yet they seem to make stuff teens like. How about agencies keep their middle aged talent but once in a while make them listen to younger creatives with good ideas. Oh yeah and give them credit for their own work.

Posted by: kamakazi on July 24, 2008 12:41 PM

You guys are totally right. This is completely wrong for the intended target.

Because kids make their OWN money, and take THEMSELVES back to school shopping.

Oh, wait. No they don't.

It's a terrible ad. But if you think it doesn't connect with the target, then you don't understand shopping behavior.

Posted by: dutycalls on July 24, 2008 12:54 PM

As someone who is just barely outside the demographic and was a teenager only years ago, I think you are quite mistaken to think no one would recognize the inspiration for this ad.

Yes, it caused pause when it came on and everyone wondered if they were remaking the Breakfast Club. Yes, it caused groans when everyone realized this was an ad for JCPenny.

But... teenagers (and former teenagers) are more up to speed on movies / trends / fads of the past than people seem to give them credit for. Have you heard of "I love the 80s"? While its a nostalgic trip down memory lane for those who remember it, it had quite a few viewers who happened to be in the teenage demographic.

Point? We should know by now that teenagers are the most socially conscious (aware?) generation and a lot of them probably recognized the breakfast club tie in. Even if it did nothing to inspire them to buy clothes.

Posted by: Ben on July 24, 2008 1:12 PM

Actually, my teenage daughter loved the breakfast club and considers it a classic, along with sixteen candles. That said, the site is horribly produced. But to say teens don't know sixteen candles is like saying they don't know star wars.

Posted by: Orly on July 24, 2008 1:13 PM

So, dutycalls, you're making the argument parents take kids shopping and this campiagn could appeal to parents. I could buy that except for the fact, kids don't want to have ANYTHING to do with anything their parents remotely might think is cool...such as this ad campiagn. So while Mom might drag Susie to JCPenney, Susie's gonna tell Mom she's clueless and head over to Aeropostale, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle or Hollister.

Posted by: Steve Hall on July 24, 2008 1:15 PM

My first thought was the same as dutycalls's ... it's aimed at me (Gen X parent), not the kids. But I hated being taken to JCPenny when I was a teen so while it made me smile, I don't think I'm going to buy anything there ...

Posted by: T. Carter on July 24, 2008 2:20 PM

I have to agree with Duty Calls. Intended target is parents who are in fact the ones who make and ofte spend the back to school cash particular for those " age-aspirational 'Tweens" who are into High School Musical.
The thing is the campaign is crappy not so much in target or concept but in execution. Had it been done with more respect for the original characters/movie it would have been better (i.e. direct TVs use of "voice over, new clips) of course considering actors are in/near 40 that wouldnt have likely worked either.

Posted by: GenX Mom on July 24, 2008 4:57 PM

I agree with dutycalls. It's not a great ad, but they are right on target. I know of no young teen who would deliberately seek out JC Penney anyhow, but it sure helps to have their Gen X parents (who has the minivan keys and the credit card) like JC Penney just a little better.

Posted by: xtine on July 24, 2008 6:22 PM

I agree with dutycalls. It's not a great ad, but they are right on target. I know of no young teen who would deliberately seek out JC Penney anyhow, but it sure helps to have their Gen X parents (who has the minivan keys and the credit card) like JC Penney just a little better.

Posted by: xtine on July 24, 2008 6:23 PM

Are you so ridiculous that you think teens will not get the reference?
The commercial was OK. It wasn't great. But that has nothing to do with it being based on Breakfast Club. It has to do with all the kids looking way too clean. The guy that's supposed to be Bender? (Being kissed by the redhead at the end.) That is so anti-Bender if I've ever seen it. Bender was a bad boy, not a pretty boy (obviously, I'm very offended by their cheap knockoff. Bender really rocked my socks at 16, and still does 11 years later).

Anyway, TBS used to regularly show this when I was a teen. Granted, this was the 90's, but due to the 80's resurgence of the early 21st century, I doubt many kinds wouldn't get the message. It totally makes sense for you to dislike the commercial because it was produced poorly, but the reference is not the issue.

And if you wanted to complain about obscurity, perhaps you should have picked something like, oh, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Definitely a film not many kids now would have seen. John Hughes' films are pretty popular with teenagers.

Posted by: Maggie on July 24, 2008 10:33 PM

Seems rather conspicuous that there are so many folks commenting to defend the demo of that ad and whether teens love classic 80's movies. I think you hit a nerve Steve.

Posted by: kamakazi on July 25, 2008 9:16 AM

2 other possibilities:

1. Saatchi & Saatchi didn't care if the Breakfast Club connection was made or not -- they just ripped off the scene 'cause they liked it.

2. JCP said, "hey, remember that great scene from the Breakfast Club?" Put it in the spot.

Agree with Steve, the whole Speed Dressing debacle makes more sense. Why Saatchi did it, who knew about it, when and why, may never be known.

Posted by: betaBonnie on July 25, 2008 1:11 PM

Is this campaign REALLY so misaimed?

Go to any "80's Night" in NYC and count the number of 20 year olds and younger dancing to "Tainted Love" and then let me know...

Posted by: Bollywood Barbara on July 29, 2008 12:07 PM

Wadda ya know here's a video by some teenagers in response to the Breakfast Club trailer.

While I slightly agree with your premise Steve, I think you're personally out of touch with teens. They're not all one homogenous mass who are stuck in a particular decade. Believe it or not some are actually interested in learning about things which aren't just the latest trends or fads.

Having said that though, those teens may still hate this ad, but for reasons as stated above by other posters. It's a poorly made ad with kids who come off more teeny boppy than "80's". They are a little too clean cut.

Posted by: Tim Jones on December 28, 2008 1:16 AM