J.C. Penney Releases New Ad Admitting It Screwed Up

Department-store chain looks to win back $4.3 billion in lost sales. “What matters with mistakes is what we learn.”

1. J.C. Penney on its disastrous year: “It’s No Secret”

J.C. Penney is apologizing to customers through a new television ad after a disastrous attempt at an overhaul led to billions in lost sales during the past year.

The department-store chain, which fired former Apple retail chief Ron Johnson as CEO last month and replaced him with predecessor Myron Ullman, posted the ad to its YouTube page last night with the title “It’s No Secret.”

In it, the company says: “It’s no secret. Recently, J.C. Penney changed. Some changes you liked, and some you didn’t. But what matters with 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 J.C. Penney. We heard you. Now we’d love to see you.” The retailer then flashes the name “jcpenney” (rather than the JCP that Johnson wanted the company to be known as) with a note: “We’re listening on Facebook.”

The video has been viewed a few hundred times since it was posted 13 hours ago.

Ullman is tasked with cleaning up a big mess at J.C. Penney. Johnson’s move to hipper brands at the expense of mainstay names such as St. John’s Bay and the removal of sales and coupons caused sales to drop by 25% to $13 billion in 2012. That’s $4.3 billion in revenue that evaporated — about equal to the annual sales of Abercrombie & Fitch, or almost four times that of Lululemon.

Of course, when trying to make amends, it never hurts to say you’re sorry.

UPDATE (5/1): Ironically, it turns out the ad was dreamt up a few months ago after executives reviewed customer feedback — while Johnson was still CEO. Ouch.

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