The last thirty years are filled with horrendous missteps that were ultimately dismissed as one-off errors in otherwise reliable track records — New Coke; the 11th season of Saturday Night Live; Neil Young’s Everybody’s Rockin’; Highlander 2: The Quickening — and now JCPenney is hoping that the Ron Johnson era will fade into memory with a new ad that basically admits the company made a mammoth oopsy.
“It’s no secret. Recently JCPenney changed,” says a disembodied voice over images of adorable little kids and attractive women in sensible clothing. “Some changes you liked, and some you didn’t.”
That might be a bit of an understatement, considering the company saw around one-third of its customers flee while it experimented with no-more-sales and everyday low pricing, and mini-stores staffed by iPad-wielding employees. Sales dropped 32% and its stock price is still less than half of what it was a year ago, even after the recent firing of supposed retail guru Johnson.
“But what matters with mistakes is what we learn,” continues the voice. “We learned a very simple thing: to listen to you. To hear what you need to make your life more beautiful.”
Much like the company went back to Johnson’s predecessor Myron “Mike” Ullman, the retailer is begging customers to return.
“Come back to JCPenney,” beckons the voice from another time a place. “We heard you. Now, we’d love to see you.”