Michael Francis, the former president of JC Penney (JCP), was ousted from the company in June of 2012, back when the infamous Ron Johnson was still at the helm. While there are conflicting reports on his exodus — was he fired after his marketing strategy confused consumers, or did he flee Ron Johnson’s sinking ship? — Mr. Francis was quickly hired as a consultant at Gap Inc., while JC Penney turned to Jeff Herbert, formerly the CMO of Aflac, for their marketing direction.
This month, Herbert’s contract with JCP will expire, and speculation about the new CMO points to Debra Berman, currently the VP of marketing and engagement at Kraft. Until January of this year, Berman also oversaw media and marketing strategy for Kraft, and managed their $500 million advertising budget. Former clients of Ms. Berman include Y&R, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Lintas.
Former CEO Ron Johnson led the company through enormous infrastructural changes — mainly layoffs — and JCP’s marketing team was significantly reduced in the process. Infighting and media criticism led to the departure of Brian Robinson, VP of marketing and design partnerships. Should she choose to accept the position, Ms. Berman will have her work cut out for her. There’s no doubt about it: JC Penney needs a win.