JCPenney Pinning Its Hopes On The Guy Responsible For Marketing New Coke

JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson had a lot of explaining to do today during the company’s Q4 earnings call. The retailer has been circling the drain since the former Apple head honcho took over, losing billions in sales and admitting its turnaround tactics were not so smart. Which is why Johnson said he’s bringing on the guy behind New Coke to help the company rebound. Heck, why not?

To be fair, Sergio Zyman also orchestrated the launch of Diet Coke during his time at Coca-Cola, a product beloved by stressed out college students and stay-at-home bloggers alike. But he also has that dirty little New Coke smudge on his record, a product that brings the word “marketing failure” to mind 28 years after its inception.

“I reached out to Sergio last fall based on his experience at Coca-Cola in the 90s,” Johnson said on call, according to Business Insider. “Based on his having the wisdom of being a board member of the Gap, and leading his own marketing consulting firm. Sergio has a unique ability to understand customers and as well as strategies that will succeed based on rapid fire test and response.”

Johnson didn’t take it easy on himself during the call either. After all, he was the guy who tried to get rid of sales and coupons, moves he now calls “big mistakes.”

He said in his quest to make JCPenney “the favorite store for everyone,” he made some major biffs in marketing and understanding the needs of customers.

“I had a personal conviction to deliver everyday value beginning with truth on the price tag,” he said. “We worked really hard and tried many things to make the customer understand that she could shop anytime on her terms.

“But we learned she prefers a sale, at times she loves a coupon, and always, she needs a reference price,” he said, referencing things like “compare to” prices often displayed on price tags that can go a long way toward convincing a shopper to buy an item.

In the future, along with Zyman’s help in the marketing department, JCPenney will have sales every week and offer coupons.

“We are highly confident that as we return to some level of promotion, we’ll get the customer back in the store,” he said.

JCPenney Has Hired The ‘New Coke’ Mastermind To Help Turn Things Around [Business Insider]
Chief Talks of Mistakes and Big Loss at J.C. Penney [New York Times]