Ms. Gass, who will report directly to chairman-CEO Kevin Mansell
beginning next month, will be responsible for marketing, e-commerce
and omnichannel experiences. The retailer has been without a chief
marketing officer since Julie Gardner departed late last year. It's
unclear whether that role will remain unfilled, given Ms. Gass'
responsibilities for marketing.
The retailer has been vocal about its need to revamp
its marketing approach, shifting more spending into TV and digital,
while focusing on Moms, particularly in the 35- to 54-year age
"[Kohl's] has gone outside the retail industry to hire someone
with a pristine reputation in operations and strength in branding,"
said Michael Exstein, an analyst with Credit Suisse. "Previously an
executive at Starbucks, where she contributed significantly to the
brand's turnaround, Michelle will add an interesting dimension to
the [Kohl's] store and may be the candidate needed to restore
Still, it's worth noting that the last high-profile executive to
join an aging department store in need of a turnaround didn't fare
all that well. Ron Johnson, the high-flying Apple executive brought
in to revamp J.C. Penney went
down in flames.
Ms. Gass has been credited with the remake of Starbuck's
Seattle's Best Coffee brand and led the introduction of Frappuccino
drinks and VIA instant coffee. She also developed the My Starbuck's
Rewards loyalty program.
"Michelle offers fresh perspective with a good mix of digital
media and advertising experience to help evolve Kohl's growing
omnichannel business," Mr. Exstein said.
In 2012, Kohl's spent $356.5 million on measured media in the
U.S., according to Kantar Media. That's a slight bump up from the
$332.8 million it spent in 2011. According to Ad Age's DataCenter, Kohl's is the
29th-largest advertiser in the U.S., having spent $1.12 billion on
total marketing in the U.S. in 2011.
Kohl's said net income for the fourth quarter and full year was
down 17% to $378 million and $1 billion, respectively. Same-store
sales for the fourth quarter, which included the holiday season,
were up 2%. Same-store sales were up 0.3% in 2012.