J.C. Penney is Done Apologizing

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 19:  Myron E. Ullman, chairman and chief executive officer, J.C. Penney Co., speaks during a news conference in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008. J. C. Penney Company announced the launch of American Living, a new, comprehensive lifestyle brand created exclusively for JCPenney's classic traditional lifestyle customer by Global Brand Concepts, a division of Polo Ralph Lauren.  (Photo by Robert Caplin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Robert Caplin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Looks like J.C. Penney's big apology tour is already over.

Less than two weeks after publicly apologizing to disgruntled customers in a TV commercial, the retailer has released another ad thanking those same customers for coming back.

The ad, entitled "Thank You," sings the praises of J.C. Penney's customers, and then recounts how the retailers has backtracked on many of former CEO Ron Johnson's changes. The ad then reports that the wayward customers have returned.

"And now, we're happy to say, you've come back to us," says the ad. "We're speechless, except for two little words: thank you."


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How many of those customers have actually come back remains to be seen. The retailer's quarterly report is due out this week, and it will be at least another quarter before we start to get a clear picture of how its sales have fared since J.C. Penney abandoned its "fair and square" pricing strategy, brought back house brands like St. John's Bay, fired its CEO and apologized for his missteps. In the meantime, though, there are indications that things are looking up for the old-look JCP: Cleveland Research analysts said this week that the retailer is seeing a "significant" sales boost due to advertising and promotional activity.

Regardless of how the recovery is proceeding, though, one thing is clear: J.C. Penney feels like it has done enough apologizing.

Sure, it's still taking feedback on its Facebook page, and saying all the right things in response. But the commercial makes it clear that it sees its contrition as complete: It apologized, the customers came back, and now it's very grateful.

Gallery: J.C. Penney Says 'We're Listening.'


And here's the best indicator that the apology tour is over: After just two weeks, the company has stopped airing the apology ad and pulled it from the company's official YouTube page. If you follow the original link to the commercial, you'll get a message that the account has made it private, meaning it can't be viewed by the general public.

Company spokeswoman Daphne Avila confirmed that the campaign was short-lived.

"The 'It's No Secret' campaign was only scheduled to run a couple of days as a precursor to our Mother's Day campaign," said Avila in an emailed statement. "However, we encourage the customer dialogue to continue through our social media channels."

Myron
Getty Images

There's nothing wrong with that, of course: J.C. Penney was under no obligation to apologize, and we certainly didn't expect them to spend months self-flagellating. But it's worth noting that other commercials from previous ad campaigns, including the "Yours Truly" spot it ran during the Oscars, are still available for viewing on the YouTube page, so it's not standard practice to delete old ads. The apology ad, in other words, was targeted for early deletion.

Clearly, J.C. Penney's new management wants to forget the disastrous Ron Johnson era ever happened. For the sake of its sales figures, it should hope that its customers do the same.

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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