Like most of its brick-and-mortar brethren, Macy's has struggled to keep pace in the era of e-commerce, suffering sales slumps that have forced the iconic chain to shutter many of its stores. And the year-end gifting season, which traditionally has given retailers a boost, was a huge bust for Macy's in 2015.
Can advertising spark consumer interest in spending some bucks at Macy's over the coming weeks? How about advertising that leverages Macy's place in popular culture by celebrating the 90th anniversary of its Thanksgiving Day Parade, televised on NBC since 1952?
BBH New York floats just such a concept in "Old Friends," a 90-second film about a very unusual relationship.
The spot opens in presumably pre-World War II Manhattan. A giant, smiley Santa Claus balloon winks down at a little rascal who's attending the parade with his parents. Through the decades that follow, leading up to present times, the lad returns to the event as he ages, renewing his acquaintance with Big Santa.
Until one year, the guy doesn't show, and the balloon breaks free of its tethers and flies off in search of its human friend.
Whoa! Huge Helium Santa, please don't ever show up suddenly at our window like that. You'll give us a heart attack!
On one hand, the spot—directed with great élan and a potent sense of nostalgia, and sans dialogue, by Noam Murro—accomplishes its mission. It tugs at the heartstrings and will surely remind some folks of their own Turkey Day associations with the parade and, by extension, its corporate sponsor.
That said, there's a certain wistful quality that cuts a tad too close to home.
We wish a new fresh-faced lad (or lass) had ultimately shown up with the guy on the parade route. Then, we'd have a grandfather passing down a beloved tradition to the next generation.
As it stands, the story feels rooted in the rituals of the past. The balloon's journey to seek out its old friend—while touching—could make the brand seem adrift, pining for a bygone era, buffeted by the winds of change.
Mostly, and despite the best intentions, the spot reminds us that no tradition lasts forever. That goes for parades—and one day, perhaps, shopping at department stores.
Agency: BBH New York
BBH Creative Chairman: John Patroulis
BBH Chief Creative Officer: Ari Weiss
BBH Copywriter/Creative Director: Hemant Anant Jain
BBH Creative Director: Shannon McGlothin
BBH Head of Content Production: Kate Morrison
BBH Executive Content Producer: Abbie Noon
BBH Head of Business Affairs: Sean McGee
BBH Global Chief Strategy Officer: Sarah Watson
BBH Group Strategy Director: Samantha Cescau
BBH Global Business Director: Jill Cavanagh
BBH Account Director: Jennifer Sunberg
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Noam Murro
DP: Simon Duggan
Executive Producer: Rick Jarjoura
Producer: Charlotte Woodhead
Head of Production: Shawn Lacy
Editing House: Work Editorial
Executive Producer: Erica Thompson
Producer: Sari Resnick
Editor: Stewart Reeves
Editor Assistant: Adam Witten
Sound Design: Henry Boy
Sound Mixing: Sound Lounge
Engineer: Tom Jucarone
Music Company: Woodwork Music
Composer: Philip Kay
Music Producer: Andy Oskwarek
VFX House: MPC NY
Managing Director: Justin Bruckman
Executive Producer: Camila De Biaggi
Senior Producer: Brendan Kahn
VFX Supervisor: Ashley Bernes
2D Lead Artist: Amanda Amalfi
3D Lead Artist: Andrew Cohen
Colorist: Mark Gethin