By Phil Wahba
May 1 J.C. Penney Co Inc, recognizing it
made mistakes in its attempt to re-invent itself last year,
launched a social media and television campaign on Wednesday
that asked shoppers who left in droves to come back.
Last year, sales plunged 25 percent after recently ousted
Chief Executive Ron Johnson largely eliminated the use of
coupons and sales in favor of regular, low prices. It was a
disastrous move that alienated Penney shoppers who were
accustomed to expecting coupons and deals.
Penney posted a video on Facebook featuring images of
classic J.C. Penney stores from the 1960s and family scenes with
a female voice-over saying "What matters with mistakes is what
we learn. We learned a very simple thing - to listen to you."
The narrator ends with: "Come back to J.C. Penney - we heard
you. Now we'd love to see you."
The video also appeared on YouTube and will run on broadcast
television this week.
Young & Rubicam helped Penney with the execution, but
Penney's internal marketing department came up with the concept
several months ago.
"This campaign sends a clear message that we listened, and
now, we're doing everything we can to bring customers back,"
Penney spokeswoman Daphne Avila told Reuters by e-mail.
One customer, identifying herself as Tammy Pennington, left
a comment on the Facebook post that said: "Next time, remember
this, If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Johnson, who was replaced by his predecessor Myron Ullman,
was brought in to stabilize the ailing retailer and sought to
turn Penney's larger locations into emporia with 100 boutiques
for hip but affordable fashion and home-goods brands.
Some comments on Facebook were in support of those efforts,
which included the addition in March of Canadian fashion brand
On Twitter, Penney invited shoppers to tell them what they
felt Penney should keep of Johnson's transformation and what it
should bring back of what he jettisoned. The company created the
Late in his tenure, Johnson reintroduced some coupons and
promotions, but those appear not to have stemmed the sales
Wall Street analysts expect same-store sales to fall 12.7
percent in the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data,
adding to the urgency for Penney to win back its shoppers.
Penney is set to report quarterly results later this month.