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."

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.

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."

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.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Intro to different retirement accounts

What does it mean to have a 401(k)? IRA?

View Course »

How much house can I afford

Home buying 101, evaluating one of your most important financial decisions.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

I have been a JCP customer for at least 40 years. I have always enjoyed the clothing lines they carried. The one thing that is really missed is the in store tailor they had in the mens suits. After I retired from the Air Force, I went to work for a company that required men to wear suits. My first suit was bought from JCP in Mesquite,Texas. They had an in store tailor and he was very helpful in helping me with style and fit.

May 16 2013 at 11:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

JCP r u listening? Really Bad Idea! "THINK": Girl thinks guy is hot.. She wants him. He starts acting desperate...Not cool, no longer hot...just a loser! Ad makes u sound like losers...and, really, who wants to be assoc with losers? So, stop the ads, and try something simple like: Pick up where you left off back when you were doing all the right things. Run slick ads that don't offend. Do coupons. And go out of the box with something like JCP Fashion Week to re-engage customers b4 spring break & again @back-to-school (Spring & Fall). A video montage from this event is the stuff that HOT commercials are made of, and will re-position JCP (and it's brands) at the cutting edge of fashion. Also, stop listening to the analysts. They're likely NOT your customers, and the general "fashion-buying" public doesn't keep up with how JCP's stock is doing day-to-day, or yr2yr for that matter. So, keep it really simple and nice... like Pop music.

May 15 2013 at 4:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Lynn Emerald

I want the catalog portion of JCP back and the household goods, they can keep the crummy clothes they sell now, they used to have decent clothes too. Anyway after seeing the appology ad I thought I would stop in to my local JCP and see what if anything had changed guess what it was closed, boarded up and gone! So I can't " come back "

May 15 2013 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ted Langs

Guess what? How about training your sales people to treat customer like guests. I worked with J C Penny back in High School. Worked with customers assisting their needs and suggesting other things that would go with their purchases. Made friends with every one of my customers. That would be a great step for a store to take getting back to the great store that it use to be. Most stores forget customers are the ones that keep them open. Let excellent customer relation lead you to great profitability.

May 15 2013 at 11:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stop catering to the saggy pants sideways cap and girley man crowd with your cloths. How about cloths that fit and not so much pink stuff.

May 15 2013 at 7:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to laedbac1's comment

Yeah, yeah, JCP, go with the narrow minded bigotry trade that you see in that post.

May 15 2013 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Make it cheap like it was before and people will come back.

May 15 2013 at 5:48 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

they lost me when they couldn't even have a men's cologne section, god knows the mens dpt.was pathetic. i used to get alot of my shirts, pants there, tho now nothing i want.....
not everything has to be for women...

May 15 2013 at 4:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to markllusti's comment

We agree. They pander too much to the saggy pants sideways cap and girley man crowd and dont have real adult cloths.

May 15 2013 at 7:06 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
John Lutz

Their D O N E............

May 14 2013 at 11:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

sounds like a government run company, mess up, apologize, carry on with business as usual

May 14 2013 at 10:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No amount of apologizing can get me back in their stores. I lost all interest.

May 14 2013 at 10:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply