J.C. Penney's media spending reached a five-year peak in 2012, up 14% to $504 million, but sales were off 25% to $12.98 billion. "It's the worst performance that I've ever encountered in decades of covering retail -- there's nothing really to compare it against," says Gilford Securities analyst Bernie Sosnick. Under the guidance of CEO Ron Johnson, the brand changed media and sales strategies frequently last year. Johnson recently brought on former Coca-Cola marketer Sergio Zyman to consult with his team, and the brand changed its pitch to a letter-to-consumers format during the Oscar telecast.

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