Ron Johnson said it best himself
“Our marketing isn’t doing the work. It needs to communicate pricing strategy…We’ve got to get our pricing across.”
With big box retail the target market is much broader than most niche shops. They carry more brands, more styles, and a wider variety of items. While social is certainly integral to any marketing mix now, television is still vital for retailers.
Johnson didn’t single out any particular medium when he said his marketing failed him, so I’ll point the finger for him. It was television’s fault. The JCPenney Ellen commercials were the biggest reason the new marketing strategy failed.
JCPenney’s big stage was on February 11, 2012 during the 84th Academy Awards. That was when they were going to reveal the long anticipated JCPenney Ellen commercials. And it was a hit! It was funny, relevant, and well produced. It had just one teeny tiny little problem.
There wasn’t a single mention of JCPenney’s new pricing structure.
All you got was Ellen haggling with a 19th century sales associate (who had a loooovely hat) and the tag “No games, just great prices.”
So what ha-happened? The commercial had a great script, great acting, and great look and feel. Why should it take so much blame for Penny’s fall? They forgot their goal. Tell people that JCPenney has changed and EXPLAIN THE NEW PRICING SYSTEM!!! They blew a big opportunity that night and never recovered. They continued to hammer away with branding without addressing the daily deals system.
Now Johnson is scrapping the new pricing system and going back to sales. With all of their grand vision he got caught up in the same sort of brainlessness that causes companies to word vomit “we want a viral video now damnit!” The buzz from Ellen and the One Million Moms controversy swallowed up the message that JCPenney’s has changed drastically.
Buyers might have never latched onto the system (a system that Wal-Mart built its empire on), but we’ll never know. In an attempt to make a buzzworthy commercial JCPenney lost sight of their goals. JCPenny can add that mistake to their ever growing list.
- Josh Greenberg