Gay-Friendly JCPenney CEO Sacked

JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson, who defended the choice of Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson and placed gay couples in advertisements, is leaving after 17 months.

BY Neal Broverman

April 09 2013 12:16 AM ET

Ron Johnson, JCPenney's bold CEO, put a gay-friendly stamp on his company, but he's getting replaced by his predecessor following slumping sales.

Johnson tried to boost the retailer's brand and bottom-line by throwing out discount sales and revamping marketing efforts. JCPenney continued to lag in profits and failed to pull ahead of competitors like Macy's and Kohl's. After less than a year and a half on the job, Johnson will be replaced by his predecessor, Myron Ullman. 

Johnson will be remembered by many as the CEO who stood by his spokesperson Ellen DeGeneres after the antigay group One Million Moms launched a boycott against JCPenney for hiring the out star.

"One of the great things about America is people can speak their mind," Johnson told CBS last year. "And we stand squarely behind Ellen as our spokesperson and that's a great thing. Because she shares the same values that we do in our company."

After failing to fire DeGeneres, One Million Moms gave up the boycott, but OMM also launched campaigns against the Texas-based chain for two advertisements that ran under Johnson's tutelage (those efforts by OMM had little effect, as well). One featured a lesbian couple; another a male couple."What makes Dad so cool?" the copy read. "He's the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver - all rolled into one. Or two."

A columnist blamed JCPenney's slow sales on their inclusive marketing. GLAAD, meanwhile, honored the retailer for the advertisements and their stance on DeGeneres. It's not clear what role DeGeneres will have in the future of the company.

Read more here and watch DeGeneres's spots below.

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