JCPenney Set to Launch Media Agency Review

Retailer Spent $923 Million on U.S. Advertising in 2013

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Debra Berman
Debra Berman

J.C. Penney is planning to review its media agency business, according to executives familiar with the matter.

The company spent $923 million on U.S. advertising in 2013. Unmeasured media spending increased 15% to $492 million, while measured media spending decreased 15% to $431 million, according to the Ad Age DataCenter.

OMD has worked with J.C. Penney for 10 years. The Omnicom media agency giant managed to hold onto the business through the retailer's tumultuous brand revamp, as well as several CMO and CEO changes.

OMD referred calls to the client. J.C. Penney didn't respond to a request for comment.

J.C. Penney in August 2013 named Debra Berman senior VP-marketing. She joined the company from Kraft Foods Group, where she was VP-marketing strategy and engagement. Less than three months after her appointment she brought in a whole new agency team, including Doner, EVB and Victors & Spoils. At the time, OMD was safe.

Before jumping over to the client side to work at Kraft in 2009, Ms. Berman worked at a number of ad agencies, in media, planning and account executive roles. Among them were WPP's JWT, Publicis' Saatchi & Saatchi and Omnicom's DDB.

Earlier this month at an analyst presentation in New York, Ms. Berman detailed the company's need to regain trust, and once it has attracted customers, ensure they keep coming back. The target customer is multi-cultural with "two little kids, too little time and too little money," Ms. Berman said.

Under Ms. Berman's watch, J.C. Penney has introduced a new tagline, "When it fits, you feel it." "Internally, we say fit is our superpower," Ms. Berman said. "When things fit, she'll slay the day."

She added that the focus on fit is part of J.C. Penney's "path back to being a lovemark."

During the retailer's most recent quarter, it reported net sales of $2.8 billion compared to $2.66 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Same-store sales increased 6% during the quarter, while online sales rose 17% to $249 million.

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