The news at J.C. Penney continues to be so dismal that a number of economics reporters are cracking jokes about the company that has fallen into a deep and dark abyss since former Apple executive, Ron Johnson has taken over as CEO. The latest fourth quarter figures were so dismal that the company is now on par to losing nearly $1 billion dollars a year. Surprisingly, the company stocks aren’t too much lower than a few months ago, despite the awful figures. Now, the latest joke is the struggling retailer has hired the marketing mastermind behind “New Coke” of all things, to supposedly turn this company around.
Sergio Zyman was best known for his grand failure by taking the tested, popular and proven “Old Coke” and retiring that flavor and replacing it with the marketing grand failure of “New Coke” which the public quickly turned against. Coke then had to win customers back by racing to bring back the old formula.
Coke had so many things going for it including that classic Raymond Lowey studios designed classic bottle that is such a perfect trademark as well as a popular taste that puts the product way out in front of Pepsi in sales. But, Sergio Zyman decided to risk everything and change all of that. Why mess with success you ask?
And that’s what J.C. Penney has done as well, taking a formula that worked so well for many years, and upset that with a concept of pricing that was hard for many consumers to understand of eliminating those sales in favor of low everyday prices under the helm of Ron Johnson.
But, the J.C. Penney ads have been a little bit better lately, using popular rock and soul anthems, as well as a better explanation of their prices. But, can Sergio Zyman make this even clearer to understand?
A company is only as good as it’s leaders. And Ron Johnson and Sergio Zyman’s track records here are a real mixed bag. Can they actually turn this company around, or is this company headed on the way to the scrap heap of failed corporations?
A few years ago, when J.C. Penney was a more profitable concern it was said that the company only had two buttons left on a shirt as a profit at the end of the day. Even worse, under Ron Johnson, that shirt is now missing the sleeves and collar both now, as well as those buttons. It’s no success story.
“New Coke” ranked as one of the worst business marketing failures of all time. Are the fortunes at J.C. Penney much better at this point?