This post was inspired by the most recent JCPenney commercial starring ESPN’s Kenny Mayne and the most famous scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

It’s not tough to understand why JCPenney would choose to use this iconic scene of Phoebe Cates getting out of the pool in their advertisement. It gets people’s attention. But the question is, does it get their attention in the right way?

Companies scratch and claw for every customer. They rely on advertisements like this one to grab attention, and they hope they can turn that attention into interest, and interest into sales.

An ad like this is bold, because it uses a cheap ploy to get attention. And the attention that they get is not going to be focused on the clothes, it’s going to be focused on the girl. But I believe the underlying goal for this commercial is not to sell the clothes being advertised. The ultimate goal is to create buzz and/or controversy over the commercial itself, thereby ensuring that the JCPenney name is used in reference to the commercial. It’s a branding exercise.

In the end, whether or not you like the commercial, or agree with using that scene to sell clothes, you will remember seeing it. And that means the ad did its job.