JCPenney (NYSE:JCP) is apologizing to customers for what it did to them when Ron Johnson was CEO—and doing it with a TV ad that Johnson commissioned, according to Bloomberg.
The 30-second ad, which was also posted on the retailer's Facebook and YouTube pages on Tuesday (April 20), isn't exactly a heartfelt mea culpa. Over simple background music, a female announcer says, "It's no secret, recently JCPenney 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 JCPenney, we heard you. Now, we'd love to see you."
A JCPenney spokesman told Bloomberg that the ad was commissioned several months ago, when the chain was already in deep trouble with a net loss of $985 million after Johnson's first year, but before Johnson was ousted as CEO and replaced by Mike Ullman on April 8.
It's too early to say whether the ad will actually bring customers back into the stores. But the vast majority of JCPenney shoppers probably don't know (and never will) who Ron Johnson and Mike Ullman are, or their comings and goings. All they know is that their JCPenney coupons and sales went away. The chain is going to have to do a lot more work to let those customers know that their beloved coupons and sales have returned, but the sort-of apology isn't a bad first step.
In the meantime, this ad is yet another one of the ironies piling up in the JCPenney soap-opera: Johnson's halfhearted apology is delivered only after he's been kicked out, and only after it has gotten a green light from the CEO that Johnson was hired explicitly to not listen to.
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