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Like ideas, brands can come from anywhere. All you need is an advertising budget, a storefront and a dream.

It turns out JC Penney has all three. They’re starting up their largest product line ever, American Living, with an ad push unlike anything a department store brand has ever seen.

The line is designed by Ralph Lauren, but the ads are the real show. The NYT describes this one as “scenes from an idealized America,” which is pretty on the nose. (A shame they used a song from Alison Krauss’ collaboration with the very British Robert Plant.)

But the ads can’t paper over the fact that this is still a department store brand, and one with an image more or less the same as mainstays like Wrangler and Wal-Mart’s unfortunately named Faded Glory line. Add in the fact that the line is going on markdown less than a month after it arrives in stores, and you’ve got a very familiar story on your hands.

-R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom