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J.C. Penney Increased Its Magazine Advertising In 2012— But Sales Collapsed Anyway*

Christina Austin


Of the 11 biggest general retailers, J.C. Penney was the third highest magazine ad spender in 2012, according to data from MediaRadar. Target and Macy's took the first two spots.

But even in spite of an increased magazine ad spend from 2011, JCP's sales still dropped.

JCP has been on a rollercoaster since former Apple guru Ron Johnson took over in 2011. Johnson changed the company's logo, set about redesigning the stores, and — infamously — ended JCP's rotating discounts and sales in favor of everyday low prices.

He accompanied it all with an ambitious, and expensive, rebranding campaign.

A big part of that campaign was magazine advertising. JCP increased its magazine ad pages from 289 to 309 between 2011 and 2012, according to MediaRadar.

Of its more than $1 billion ad budget for 2011, it spent $53.6 million on magazines, and even more on newspapers, according to Ad Age.  That amount probably rose in 2012, according to MediaRadar.

The increased spending came after JCP fired its ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi at the end of 2011, after five years together. It brought in Peterson Milla Hooks.  Its PR company, M Booth and Associates, was also set loose.

Did any of this pay off?  Comparable same-store sales for the third quarter of 2012 declined 26.1 percent and total net sales decreased 26.6 percent, from $3.9 billion to $2.9 billion.

Overall, 2012 general retail ad pages increased by 3 percent, with seven of the top 11 increasing their ad pages from the year before:

*This story originally included inaccurate data from MediaRadar, and has since been updated to reflect the correct information.

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