JCPenney Ditches President After Only 8 Months

Last Fall, JCPenney’s new CEO, former Apple retail guru Ron Johnson, hired another retail biggie with a charmed resume, Target vet Michael Francis, as president. Francis was charged with the goal of righting the ship and steering JCP back on course. Continuing this nautical theme, Francis has now been put out on a dinghy and cut loose to drift in the sea of unemployment.

“We thank Michael for his hard work at jcpenney and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” reads a statement from Johnson that is almost as brief as Francis’ career at JCPenney.

Johnson will immediately take over the day-to-day marketing and merchandising functions that Francis leaves with his departure. We’re going to assume this includes sitting in a big office and looking out the window, because that’s what executives do in movies.

It also means coming up with ideas like getting rid of “sales,” in favor of everyday discounts… and then all but abandoning that idea after only a few months.

Who knows what this decision means for Johnson and Francis’ plans to turn each JCPenney store into a collection of mini stores.

Before coming to JCPenney, Francis was one of the people credited with changing Target’s image from a discount retailer to a more hip destination for consumers.

All this news gives us a reason to run what may be a front-runner for this fall’s upcoming Worst Ad In America awards:


Edit Your Comment

  1. Matthew PK says:

    and ten million dollars later….

  2. FatLynn says:

    As long as they keep Ellen, I’m good.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Um yeah, about Ellen …

      • Jevia says:

        Yeah, does this have anything to do with the bruhaha over the use of gay themes for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day?

        • ChuckECheese says:

          I’m sure some misguided xenophobic souls have conflated JCP’s current unsuccess with their use of nontraditionals as spokespersons.

        • cybrczch says:

          Oh, I’m sure the Million Mom (give or take a few hundred thou) will take credit, blaming loyal protests against ‘inclusiveness’ as the reason people are staying away. Not service, or prices, or anything like that….

  3. brinks says:

    I like JCP’s new price structure, but it wasn’t marketed well. If you don’t read Consumerist, and you tune out annoying commercials, you’d have no idea. The print ads I’ve seen are a little better, but I’m one of few people I know that still reads genuine magazines.

    Awful commercials only work for Old Navy.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Me, too. I appreciate any model that doesn’t have everything on perpetual sale, which makes it not really a sale.

    • cowboyesfan says:

      People loves sales, even if they have to spend extra.

      The CEO will be following by next quarter end.

    • bikeoid says:

      I loved the new pricing structure also, so that I didn’t have to hunt for sales, but I could shop there just when I had time. Oh well, no more I guess.

    • miguelggarcia says:

      Exactly, those ads were terrible, hard to understand.
      The idea of “always low prices” has worked well for WalMart for decades, and they’re not particularly known for their great ads.

      • LMA says:

        Who even got as far as trying to understand it? I’ll bet most people did as I did when one of those ads came on — hitting mute on the TV and looking back down at their laptop.

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      HAH. I was waiting for someone to notice the “Old Navy” and their Glee-inspired ads that are just lame.

  4. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I’m sure he has a huge golden parachute, so he won’t be scraping by on ramen noodles and boxed mac & cheese just yet.

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    JCPenney Ditches President After Only 8 Months; apparently, the seasons
    new model is coming out and the old model has been discounted.

  6. MickeyMoo says:

    The ad may be annoying, but the point it makes is true. They’re gunning for Kohl’s and their stupid coupons, which vary from 10/15/20/25/30% off on any given day depending how quick you can open up another browser tab and navigate to retailmenot. Kohl’s card? Maybe you’ll get free shipping, maybe you won’t. I miss the deep deep discounts JCP offered when you could stack clearance+coupons, but their unwavering support of Ellen and the 2 gay dads in the Father’s Day flier in spite of those shrill horrible “One Million Moms” people has made me a customer for life.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I tried Kohl’s for a while. I left because their quality was terrible – I returned more than I bought due to bad stitching or other bad craftsmanship.

      I stay away because I don’t want to shop at a store with a business model that requires me to shop once, use coupons to shop again, and again as nauseum in order to actually benefit from discounts.

      That and I’ve seen too many items at this supposedly discount haven priced much higher than usual and then discounted down to a price STILL higher than JCP and elsewhere. Complete sham.

  7. Buckus says:

    I applaud JCP for trying something different with their “Sale” stuff. I don’t buy new clothes often, but rest assured that when I do, JCP will be visited.

    Also, I hate Kohl’s and their stupid sales/coupons/WTF pricing scheme.

  8. gman863 says:

    Never overestimate the intelligence of the average consumer.

    When I got my first radio advertising sales job right out of college I attended a seminar run by Chris Lytle – a very down to earth guy who preaches customer-foucused, low pressure tactics in business-to-business sales.

    When dealing with consumer ads, however, he had done extensive studies of why some ads work and others don’t. Based on his research, time and/or quantity limits placed in an ad (“Two days only!” “While they last”, etc.) were a critical factor in motivating consumers to take action.

    Look at car brands. Although there were other issues, Saturn tanked in part due to their no-haggle pricing. The same thing is happening with Toyota’s Scion brand; rumor has it it will be dumped in a year or two in favor of a “Prius” brand.

    As for JCP, their fate was sealed in 1980 when Airplane’s Johnny forever impregnated “There’s a SALE at PENNY’S!” into the American mind.

    • Murph1908 says:



      Buy one suit at regular price…get TWO Free.


      (next weekend, similar 3 day sale, followed by another the next weekend, ad infinitum)

      • do-it-myself says:

        Scion isn’t going anywhere due to the FR-S. Prius will just stay a sub-brand within Toyota.

        I’ve learned that advertizing either works or it doesn’t. I have to admit in JCP’s “June” commercial, there’s not much of an information transfer taking place. Commercials in which you have to guess (aka THINK) are advertising $$$ wasted. The only companies that can get away with that these days are Apple and Ford (their latest commercial with debaged cars).

        As hokey and annoying local car ads are, they ingrain themselves into your mind against your will. I’d love to pay only $158 a month for a car….but I’m smart enough to know that these are for leases and they want a hefty down payment.

      • some.nerd says:

        Those commercials are clearly speaking to the elderly, who don’t understand us fast-talkin’ young’uns. You… have… replicated… their… announcer… perfectly!

  9. JonBoy470 says:

    Michael Francis and his (former) boss Ron Johnson are both Target veterans. Target has ridden a wave of success powered by superior design of products that are bespoke to the Target chain. Then they leveraged high sales volume combined with the low fixed costs of the big box retail model to offer distinctive, desirable products at very aggressive prices. Basically, Target sells stuff that people think is cool, and that you can only get at Target.

    JCPenney doesn’t have any of that, so they fail…

    • ChuckECheese says:

      At one time what you say was true. Now Target sells many of the middling products of other big-boxes, only at very high prices.

  10. Shorebreak says:

    When do the store closing clearance sales start?

  11. BradenR says:

    There pricing was never a problem. Quality 50 percent Still the reason we boycott JC PENNEY and their like minded friends is that they support ethnic cleansing in Palestine. Their profits are headed to Israel, NO THANKS

  12. TinaBringMeTheAx says:

    I had never been to a JC Penny store before this year.

    I went because of their new pricing plan and because they stood up to a bunch of right wing bigots with the whole Ellen thing, and have spent a few hundred buck there so far. I am completely satisfied with their prices, products, staff and policies.

    As far as I’m concerned, Ron Johnson is a hero.

    …but I’m a left wing, Consumerist reading, Upper West Side liberal homo.

  13. RvLeshrac says:

    I’m sure he’s crying himself to sleep on his Fucking Shitton of money.

    Here’s a more accurate sentence: “Continuing this nautical theme, Francis has now been put out on a treasure ship filled with only the finest in uncut gemstones and priceless artifacts, and will be hired by another company in three days, where he’ll have a salary ten times larger.”

  14. mopman64 says:

    I am sure if they stop pushing homos and lesbos in their ads they might get more business. Hate to say but not everyone wants to see this crap. America still has values. Like it or not.

    • rdaex says:

      if trolling: Win
      If srs, wow are you a backwoods dipshit

      • HomerSimpson says:

        I’ll go with “B” for the win, Alex.

        Surprising he didn’t also say the ads aren’t “wite” enough.

    • MMD says:

      “America still has values.” Yes. Equality being one of them.

      If you’re serious, you’re on the wrong side of history. Like it or not.

      • Extended-Warranty says:

        It’s one thing to extend rights and prevent discrimination against gay people. It’s another thing to force the culture down the throats of everyone. I’m sorry, but I don’t want my kids to see gay references EVERYWHERE.

        • AtlantaCPA says:

          I am sure that a few years ago people said “I don’t want my children to see black people EVERYWHERE” while clutching their pearls.

        • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

          Why does every bigot always go for the “forcing down our throats” idiom? Unfulfilled fantasies, perhaps?

          Not hiding in the shadows is not the same as “forcing it down your throat”.

          We’re here. We’re queer. Get the fuck used to it.

        • incident_man says:

          If you want to use that logic, then whenever I see an ad featuring a family with a mother, father, and two children, I can call that “forcing that culture” down my throat? It cuts both ways, fella.

          I’m heterosexual but have a few homosexual friends. They don’t want to “force” anything “down my throat,” they just want the same rights and privileges I have, namely the right to make the same commitment I have with my wife: Marriage. Nothing more, nothing less. If anything, we should be celebrating the fact that more people want to make those kind of commitments to each other, not forcibly keeping them from doing so because of bigotry and blind hatred.

          Besides, it’s been my experience that those who are the most uptight about the prevalence of homosexuality and homosexuals tend to also be the most unsure about their own sexuality.

      • mopman64 says:

        Equality for a man and a man or a girl and a girl, why is it that in most states when this is brought up to a vote by the people it is voted down?

        I am not projecting my values on anyone, it is just my view if it is wrong in your eyes so be it.

        Showing 2 homos on a sales flyer is wrong in my eyes and I choose like others to no longer shop there, call me what you want but that’s just me.

        You noticed Penney’s decline started with Ellen D became their spokesman and continued with the sales flyer’s showing the 2 dads.

        You don’t think things like this turn people off, trust me they do. Just ask the pastor who’s flock left him when he supported gay marriage.

        Maybe if people had more values in this country we would not be in the condition we are in.

        • Craige says:

          You know, up here in Canada, we legalised gay marriage years ago, and we seem to be doing just fine.

          As far as the JC Penny flyers go, it’s simple statistics. In North America, a certain percentage of the population is gay – like it or not. If we pretend this percentage is 5% (I don’t have any actual figures on hand, but this seems like a reasonable, low-ball number), then we should expect to see this fraction of people represented in 5% in advertising.

          To be honest, I’d like to see MORE advertisements supporting LGBT couples. I know I certainly don’t see anywhere near 5%

        • Talmonis says:

          That’s cool hoss, that just means it’s a business I can frequent without dealing with fundies. Man, what a relief.

        • MMD says:

          “Equality for a man and a man or a girl and a girl, why is it that in most states when this is brought up to a vote by the people it is voted down?”

          Because a lot of people are bigots. And because social change takes a long time. 50 years ago, people would have voted down interracial marriage.

          Your bigotry is not just wrong in “my eyes”, it’s wrong on a fundamental human level. And since every poll of young people finds wide support for gay marriage, it’s only a matter of time before they become the majority and vote *for* it, not against it.

          So, my point stands: you’re on the wrong side of history.

          • MMD says:

            And also, you’re factually wrong – the sales decline started before the ads you cite. There are problems at JC Penney, no doubt, but they’re a hell of a lot more complicated than blaming them on an ad. But you’ll never understand that, because you can’t see past your own biases.

        • Costner says:

          “Equality for a man and a man or a girl and a girl, why is it that in most states when this is brought up to a vote by the people it is voted down?”

          Are you SERIOUSLY trying to suggest human rights should be determined by popular vote? Are you suggesting popularity has any bearing on values or morality?

          I’ve got a bit of news for you…. Hitler was a pretty popular guy – it doesn’t mean he was on the right side of history. Also if you would have held a public vote in the South about whether or not to end slavery it would have been overwhelmingly pro-slavery. Again… wrong side of history – much like yourself.

          I pity your children and grandchildren that will have to apologize for your behavior later in life.

          “You noticed Penney’s decline started with Ellen D became their spokesman and continued with the sales flyer’s showing the 2 dads.”

          That isn’t even remotely accurate. JCP has been struggling for years, and they are actually doing better now than they were five or six years ago. They still have a long way to go, but Ellen and/or one sales flyer has nothing to do with it.

          We don’t just get to make shit up when we feel like it.

          “You don’t think things like this turn people off, trust me they do. Just ask the pastor who’s flock left him when he supported gay marriage.”

          You realize for the first time in American history, public opinion polls now show that the majority of Americans actually support gay marriage right? That means there are more people who are NOT “turned off” by this type of thing than there are people who are “turned off” by this type of thing.

          That trend will continue due to younger generations being more progressive and understanding. As the older generations die off, rest assured the public will demand gay marriage in all 50 states, and I predict that will be the case within 15-20 years maximum.

          “Maybe if people had more values in this country we would not be in the condition we are in.”

          What you really mean is that maybe if people had YOUR values right? Because people have values… they just might include equality for all, and a sense of fairness which you disagree with. Maybe if people were more open minded and quit trying to build walls to segregate society into those types of people they agree with and “everyone else”… well maybe society would be better off because of it.

          Call me crazy, but I tend to lean towards inclusionary policies being better for the nation as a whole rather than exclusionary policies. Providing equal rights for all – and that means even those who you may disagree with – tends to promote a stronger nation and it brings people together. When your values include bigotry against those who you may disagree with, you are not helping the nation, but rather you are contributing to a negativity that prevails in so many close-minded people which in turn have resulted in the “condition” we are in.

        • incident_man says:

          Here we go with the homosexual card, again. When will some people understand that it’s IRRELEVANT how you “feel” about it? People have rights…..EQUAL rights. If you don’t believe me, check the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights, 13th-15th and 19th Amendments. Civil rights were never, and shall never be decided by a vote of the people, regardless of how some people “feel” about it.

          Marriage is a CIVIL RIGHT. Don’t believe me? Then why are Justices of the Peace able to legally perform the ceremony, rather than just members of the Clergy?

          Besides if two women or two men want to live together and/or get married, what the hell does it matter to YOU? Are they asking YOU to marry them???

    • ARP says:

      Why are you prejudiced against people from Greek islands?

    • Kuri says:

      So, what you’re saying is you’re projecting YOUR values on everyone else.

  15. tooluser says:

    Note that the CEO is in charge, and should have been fired as well. “President” these days is a title for sucker fall-guys (or -gals).

  16. D007H says:

    I want to like their straight forward pricing, but most things at JCP still seem to be overpriced and not competitive. I went there looking for a suit. Their store brand ones were more expensive than a brand name suit I found on sale at Macy’s in the same mall.

  17. prosumer1 says:

    Dumb move. I’ve noticed that JCPenney was making changes toward the right direction, brand cleanup, calculated PR campaigns, etc., all to get JCP out of the stale Grandma demo image. Now they’re firing the guy who seems to be responsible for the turnaround?

    Well, it’s back to the Depends crowd, JCPenney.

  18. OMG_BECKY says:

    One Million Moms rejoices.

  19. scoosdad says:

    Well there’s always Sears or K-Mart for this guy. He couldn’t do much damage to either of those that isn’t already there.

    Walmart seems to be pretty secure in their operations so I’ll leave them off the list.

  20. CalicoGal says:

    I just bought two dresses from just because of their Father’s Day ad, which I heard about here at Consumerist.
    I never would have gone to if it weren’t for that ad.
    I must say, they have a GREAT selection of dresses, ladies!!!

    • caradrake says:

      In my mall, they’re located right next to the kid’s play area. I love leaving my husband to watch the kids while I go browse.

      Their clearance *rocks*. I’ve found so many great things (including some very nice winter coats) marked down to $1.97.

      I’m sad that they seem to have gotten rid of the $10 off any purchase $10 or more coupons. I used to get one every 4 months or so, and haven’t gotten any in the last year.

  21. some.nerd says:


  22. paulthegeek says:

    Soon JCPenney will be banished to CircuitCityland. Unfortunately, the One Million (well, actually only a few thousand) Moms will probably claim victory, even though their ridiculous, hate-based boycott will not be the reason.

  23. BadIdeaSociety says:

    Are they going to have an ad campaign where they claim that the nonsense of sale prices is back?

  24. theconversationalist says:

    Francis was the moron who launched the DISASTER that was the “new” right before Christmas. It went from one of the best sites under Amazon’s control to one of the worst overnight. Then the next month, he jumped ship to Pennneys. He deserves extended unemployment to ruminate on his retail sins.

  25. Ricochet says:

    While Penney’s quality in some areas has improved, for the most part, it just isn’t there. Also, the Penney’s credit card is one of the onerous ones out there, and the benefits are practically nil, unless you bought EVERYTHING you need there, including groceries, gas, etc. I recently got one, and once I read the fine print, I paid it off and will probably never use it again.