"They really are an entertainment brand, not just in the marketing approach, [but] with . . . the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the fireworks," says Marco. "This seemed like the perfect fit for them to bring something from the holidays to life."
Incorporating Macy's into the show required "a very light touch," says Wayne Best, ecd at JWT. "We wanted to make sure that Macy's didn't get slammed for making a 30-minute ad." The team, which also included cd Matt MacDonald, employed the "Believe" campaign theme in the special in the form of the "Believe Meter" and branding elements like Macy's star as well as the store, at which Virginia peers into a window in one scene. "Macy's was around back then, so I think we had permission with the public to do that," adds Best.
The production also allowed Macy's and the team to grant the wish of 10-year-old Taylor Hay, who wants to become an actress, by giving her a part in the show. Her voice and likeness were used in one of the characters.
Chet Fenster, managing partner at MEC Entertainment and executive producer of the show, says that the special has the potential to be a perennial favorite. "The story has endured a hundred years. It has a timeless quality to it," he says.
In fact, the uplifting story was the basis of an Emmy Award-winning animated special in 1974. An advantage that Yes, Virginia has to becoming a modern classic is that it has the marketing muscle of Macy's behind it, he adds.
"To do it in a way that has a brand involved to help market it and build awareness is an important factor," says Fenster, who notes the show is competing not only with classics like Frosty and Rudolph but newer properties such as Shrek the Halls and The Muppets specials. "In order to establish a new one, it needs to have some familiarity built in, or you've got to be able to market it. And with Yes, Virginia, we have both."