JC Penney's Oscars Ad: We'll Last Another Century

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JCP adJC Penney kicked off a new ad campaign during last night's Oscars, running several commercials during the broadcast. A few highlighted the retailer's brand collections, and the flagship was this 90-second spot below, titled "Yours Truly."

The central message is, "Dear America, you deserve to look better." But we were struck by what came next.

"That's what we've believed for 100 years," the copy reads. "And we will believe for 100 more."

Yes, JC Penney -- which actually came into existence 111 years ago -- declared last night that it expects to be around for another century.

Now, we'd raise our eyebrows at any business claiming that it will still be in business in the year 2113. But the prediction is especially bold considering how JC Penney has struggled these last few years. CEO Ron Johnson was brought on a little over a year ago to chart a new direction for the company and revive flagging sales figures, and the results to date haven't been encouraging. Here's how the stock has performed in the last year:

JCP stock chart

That's a 46% drop in share price in the last 365 days.

The new "fair and square pricing" model sent its customer base fleeing for the exits, and Johnson recently conceded defeat on that point by deciding to bring back sales promotions. Meanwhile, the company just laid off 10% of its workforce at corporate headquarters, and it's burning through cash as it implements its store makeovers.

That doesn't sound like a company that's guaranteed to last another decade, much less another century.

None of this is to say that it's time to throw dirt on the company's grave. The share price has surged over the last week, and on Wednesday we'll see how much of that investor confidence is warranted when we see its fourth-quarter earnings report.

But if there's one person whose confidence in Johnson is unwavering, it's the CEO himself -- a fact that this commercial makes clear. We may have our doubts about whether he'll last as CEO through the end of the year, but Johnson clearly thinks that he and his company have many good decades still to come.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.
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