Some time after Oesterreicher had taken complete charge of the company, Barger Tygart, still the number-two man, called in Duff-Bloom and said, "I just sold Jim on the need to fix our marketing. He said, ˜Do whatever you think. And what I think is, you've got the best marketing instincts on this floor. You also know how to make things work. So you are now, or soon will be, Penney's new president of marketing."
Duff-Bloom was thrilled. This was a choice assignment, her first "line" responsibility and a chance to directly affect the company's bottom line. "Barger," she beamed, "I think I can fix things there. Thanks."
"I know you can if anyone can. But I also know you've now got too much to do. So Jim's bringing in Gary Davis, and he'll take administration and HR off your hands. You keep communications since it's a fit."
Duff-Bloom got results almost immediately. Meetings with the agency in the past had been tortuous, senior executives with no advertising background pontificating on things like art direction and music. Duff-Bloom stopped that. She brought in a top- notch executive art director, John Thomas, to fix the frumpy look of Penney's print. And, responding to a common complaint, she initiated an ambitious process to finally get merchandising , supply, advertising, and promotion all on the same page.
She fixed the talent problems (by going outside) but was less successful with a coordinated, well-focused marketing program. Her enemies here were three: turf troubles, the chairman's consensus management, and the deteriorating value of JCPenney merchandise. Still, the efficacy of Penney's marketing had clearly improved. So she was hardly prepared for what happened 18 months before her retirement.