Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brilliant...or desperate?

JC Penney is crashing down a path in retail marketing that will either be considered, after results are in, a home run or a colossal failure.

In a presentation yesterday in New York, the CEO and President of JC Penney outlined their planned dramatic changes. These changes will be unveiled to consumers on Wednesday, February 1.

First off, the retailer shared a new logo--a square red box with a blue box and "jcp" in reversed out white in the upper left hand corner. Think of it as a patriotic, American-flag sort of vibe.

Second, JC Penney announced that Ellen DeGeneres will be the new company spokesperson. In addition to DeGeneres, Martha Stewart will have a partnership with the retailer and a new line from designer Nanette Lepore was announced.

Yet, perhaps the biggest change is in the retailer's pricing strategy. This strategy, called "fair and square" pricing, will include everyday, regular prices; monthlong values; and best prices, which will happen on the first and third Fridays of every month. Overall, the pricing shift will trim Penney's promotions from 590 a year to 12 a year.

The dramatic cut in promotions is being teased in new work from Mother which includes the tagline "Enough is Enough." I saw the spot for the first time last night and, honestly, I found it to be on the level of irritant as that of the Target shopper who was that chain's spokesperson in pre-Thanksgiving advertising.

The overall strategy shift--massive in size and scope--will also include merchandising updates to store personality and color palette. Overall, it's a major move for a retailer who has become irrelevant in a land of Target, WalMart and other smaller, successful retail chains.

As has become the trend in marketing these days, the name of that brand called Apple was evoked to explain the wisdom of this move. "Just like Apple, we're going to learn that the best days aren't in the rear-view mirror, they're right down the road," said CEO Ron Johnson. "I believe the department store is the number one opportunity in American retail. And this isn't something I decided last June when I took the job. This is something I decided 10, 15 years ago."


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