JC Penney's Re- ReBranding Efforts

After rebranding and ousting its CEO, JC Penney is trying to lure customers back to the store. In a new commercial, the company says, "It's no secret that JC Penney changed" and admits that not everyone liked what they saw. The voiceover asks people to return, saying "We learned a very simple thing: to listen to you."

The CEO was in place for only 17 months, and by most accounts was a disastrous choice for the company. A former Apple executive, Ron Johnson implemented a strategy to target younger customers, and the company brought in hipper products and stopped running sales. But JC Penney's loyal customers were alientated in the process.

Will the new commercial and CEO (Mike Ullman, who preceded Johnson) turn the company around? Skeptics say it's a rough road: same-store sales were down 20% last year and are down 15% so far this year.

A writer for USA Today thinks the company is doomed:

"Either way, there is no reason that these customers will come back. J.C. Penney's share of the retail market is already permanently depressed.

"J.C. Penney is done for. The only party that has not admitted as much is management.

Discussion Starters:

  • Assess the new commercial. How does the company use language, images, and music to convey its message?
  • Which arguments in the commercial might convince customers to return to the store? Which may detract from the company's message?