Retail’s maverick CEO, Ron Johnson, recently left his position as head of the spectacularly successful Apple Stores, and is now the CEO of JC Penney. He has been reworking the image of the retail giant and has rolled out numerous new plans and ideas to change the way JCPenney sells to its customers.
As part of Johnson’s reworking of JCPenney’s image, the company has hired Ellen DeGeneres as their new spokesperson–an extremely shrewd and savvy move.
Now an anti-gay group, OneMillionMoms.com, has taken its aim at JCPenney for hiring an openly gay woman as their public face. According to the LATimes:
“Funny that J.C. Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families,” the group wrote on its website. “More sales will be lost than gained unless they replace their spokesperson quickly. Unless J.C. Penney decides to be neutral in the culture war, then their brand transformation will be unsuccessful.”
I would say that this is the first big test for Ron Johnson as the head of JCPenney. How he–and the company he leads, responds to such a challenge will go a long way to hurt ot burnish the image that he is trying to create for JCPenney.