business news in context, analysis with attitude

Troubled retailer JC Penney, desperate to figure out what it has to do to make shoppers love it, has posted a new :30 commercial on YouTube and Facebook that apologizes for its recent marketing missteps. The ad, which features gauzy images of Americans in various settings, has the following voiceover:

It's no secret. Recently JCPenney changed. Some changes you liked and some you didn't, but what matters from mistakes is what we learn. We learned a very simple thing, to listen to you. To hear what you need, to make your life more beautiful. Come back to JCPenney, we heard you. Now, we'd love to see you.

JC Penney is trying to dig itself out of a situation that it created when, faced with declining and stagnant sales, it hired Apple Store veteran Ron Johnson to run the company. Johnson then looked to reorganize the stores into a group of boutiques and go from coupons and promotion-driven marketing to EDLP. When that resulted in plummeting sales, profits and traffic, the company fired Johnson and brought back the man he replaced, Myron Ullman III.
KC's View:
The more I think about it, the more I'm pretty sure that the board would have brought back James Cash Penney himself had he been available.

If the ad had been honest, the voiceover would have gone like this...

Oy. Did we screw up. It ends up that comparing the Apple Store to JC Penney is like comparing apples to manatees. And boy, have we become a retailing manatee. So here's the deal. We're going to send you coupons. And more coupons. We're going to have sales and more sales and more sales. And we'll pretty much do anything to create the illusion that we're relevant. Because America needs JC Penney. And more importantly, we need our jobs.

And then, they'll break into song...

What have I got to do to make you love me
What have I got to do to make you care
What do I do when lightning strikes me
And I wake to find that you're not there...