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JCPenney Holiday GiftBot Receives a Shorty Award

Fara Rosenzweig
JCPenney Holiday GiftBot Receives a Shorty Award

The holidays are stressful enough. Add in the gift hunting for anyone on your holiday list and your stress level is probably about to explode.  


With so many options out there, it’s easy to get stuck in “gifting paralysis,” where choosing the right present feels impossible. But JCPenney, one of the nation’s largest retailers, noticed this struggle and stepped in to help make holiday shopping as personalized, easy, and joyful as possible. Meet the JCPenney (JCP) Holiday GiftBot

The JCP Holiday GiftBot

Recognizing the challenge, JCPenney introduced the JCP GiftBot, a cutting-edge holiday gift-giving assistant powered by—on Meta’s platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Using Merkle’s innovative Intelligent Messaging technology, they crafted a tool that offers personalized gift recommendations based on product ratings, interests, price, and more. 


Shoppers could engage in one-on-one conversations through click-to-message ads and receive timely push notifications about key holiday sales—which makes the shopping experience easy for anyone.

Behind the Strategy

Any strategy can not be successful without understanding their customer. So Dentsu, JCPenney, Merkle and ZEALS—the team behind the successful personalized conversation—dove into JCP’s audience wants and needs. After extensive research, the team identified high-interest categories and products to maximize revenue during the crucial holiday season. 


By employing a custom “Now, Near, Next” roadmap, they connected with JCPenney’s diverse working families, integrating paid media and CRM efforts seamlessly.


JCP Holiday GiftBot was among the few non-entertainment advertisers to run both Click-to-Messenger and Click-to-Instagram Direct campaigns. This approach not only drove first-party data collection for future CRM activities but also enabled JCPenney to send recurring notifications and exclusive holiday offers to Holiday GiftBot users. 


Customers were directed to specific categories like jewelry, home goods, and clothing, as well as to the JCPenney offers page, ensuring a streamlined shopping experience.


Despite tight timelines and various challenges, including being the first to market, their quick test, learn, and optimize approach ensured the best possible consumer experience.

The Results

JCPenney’s campaign didn’t just aim to “win the holidays”—it focused on enhancing the customer experience. 


By addressing a major pain point in holiday shopping, JCPenney not only attracted new customers but also drove efficient conversions


Here are some of the standout results:

  • 95% of all conversations were initiated by first-time JCPenney messengers.
  • The campaign achieved a 3.8x higher conversion rate compared to business-as-usual campaigns during the same period.
  • 30% of participants who messaged JCPenney opted in for future communications.

By blending first-to-market technology, a customer-first strategy, and a mix of paid media and CRM activities, JCPenney successfully bridged the gap between the physical and digital shopping experience, effectively bringing the in-store associate to life online.


Because of this innovative approach to make holiday shopping less taxing on customers, the Denstu and JCPenney team received an Audience Honoree at the 16th Annual Shorty Awards for the JCPenny’s Holiday GiftBot—meaning this campaign received the highest number of public votes.


The JCP Holiday GiftBot successfully achieved the ultimate goal of providing utility, easy-to-use tech and even a little fun in the customer’s shopping experience, as well as exceeding benchmarks on several key metrics—all powered by


Huge congrats to all teams involved for their hard work and recognition!


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