TODAY   |  May 02, 2013

JC Penney gets honest in ad: We made a mistake

TODAY’s Professionals Star Jones and Donny Deutsch, along with “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi, discuss a revealing new ad in which JC Penney admits making mistakes and says, “We learned a very simple thing: to listen to you.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back now at 8:11. and we've got "today's professionals" with us. star jones , donny deutsch . welcome all, nice to see you. we'll start with the subject that brings u full circle to a subject we discussed here about a month ago. we were asking the question when will a male in a professional major sport in the united states come out and say i'm gay? we got the ansr this week, jason collins , a pro basketball player did it directly and eloquently. brings us to the next question. what's next? what happens? do we see a lot of other players come out?

>> well, let me first of all talk about jason and his career. with his stats, had e would have a 50% chance of getting hired next year.

>> he's without a team right now.

>> guess what, it's 100% now. it's very interesting. i'm not saying he did it for this reason, but david stern who is a brilliant marketer will not let the nba reject him even if performance wise he would be. so find it fascinating at this moment in time he chose to do it. obviously, brave thing to do, career brilliant thing to do.

>> i don't think it's a bad thing. even if it does benefit his career, so what, there are such great benefits to what he did. and we're all trying to use whatever we can to stand out. and this is a noble way for jason to stand out. and i think it's a great idea.

>> let me get this straight. are you saying if he had a contract for the next couple of years, he might not have come out?

>> i'm not saying that. i don't know jason collins , all i'm saying is i'm glad he came out. and if he gets some benefit from it, more power to him.

>> i don't think rosa parks set out to be the person who people call the mother of the civil rights era . i don't think jason collins started out thinking i'm going to be this gay hero. but it becomes a movement that equalizes people not based on their sexuality in work.

>> that's where i started and we got off the subject. the question is, does this prompt other major players? some are questioning out loud whether jason collins has the star power to get other players to do the same thing.

>> i think he does only because of the reaction from other major nba stars and just entertainers in the media in general. i was on twitter and i saw so many celebrities who don't give a darn about basketball come out.

>> let me moveon. this next one is interestingly enough about a commercial that ran on our air just a little while ago. jc penney had a very bad 2012 , lost about a third of their customers, it was a dismal financial year. they came out with an ad that takes it on right off the bat, straight on. we made mistakes, we're sorry. take a look.

>> it's not secret, recently jc penney changed. some changes you liked, some you didn't. but what matters with mistakes is what we learn. we learned a very simple thing, to listen to you, to hear what you needo make your life more beautiful. come back to jc penney , we heard you. nowe'd love to see you.

>> we made mistakes, we messed up, come back. you're the ad guy. is this a good approach?

>> a couple of months ago i was having lunch with the hedge fund guy who owns jc penney . i said, come straight out and say we screwed up. what they didn't do, i told him that as a friend. i would have gone much rther. really had fun and said, hey, we screwed up, what a bunch of idiots we are, we owe you and here's what we're going to do for you.

>> i have to tell you, i liked it, and it would make me go to jc penney and see --

>> give them another shot.

>> it actually would. i was jc penney kind of girl. i would go back to jc penney .

>> the reason i like is it because what they were accused of when they changed their strategy is alienating their core customer. that ad even the maternal tone of the narrater and the images you see are so intimate. that's what they're trying to do. reestablish that intimacy.

>> and trying to appeal to us, the women.

>> the women.

>> i see it very transparent. if you're going to do a mea culpa , you've got to say this is really stupid.

>> do you really want to focus people on the past or looking towards the future?

>> you have to reset. that's what we call a reset ad.

>> i think if they were going after boys,maybe, yes, but if they're going after girls, we want you to y, i'm sorry, but we've got good sales.

>> that's my point, they don't give you that.

>> google glass, we tried them on here yesterday. you can do a little e -mailing, take pictures, take video, you can wear them on the street. get all kinds of information. raise your hand if you think you might be signing up for an early pair of google glass.

>> no.

>> i would be curious. i would.

>> do you worry that somebody could be walking down the street behind you and say she looks nice and talk to their google glass and say take a picture or take a video that you lose privacy if a lot of people start to have this.

>> i have already lost my privacy. people already do that, they just get money for doing it. i think what this will do is change the way we think of privacy. because if everyone is a subject of this kind of surveillance, then our very notion of privacy different. it's already happening with google maps .

>> here's why i don't get frightened. we will self -police ourselves. i think people wearing them will be a scarlet letter . i think the public has a way of self-correcting.

>> not everybody is wearing them.

>> if you think about the headphones walking around with your smartphone. if you see everyone with google glass, your privacy is definitely diminished.

>> and you behave differently.

>> you know when you step out your door, you're no longer private.

>> you do that now. nice to have you all here.