We Hear: Ogilvy, Other Agencies in Talks to Handle Macy’s Brand Work

By Patrick Coffee 

UPDATE: After we first ran this post, multiple parties reached out to confirm that Ogilvy is not the only New York agency currently pursuing the Macy’s business. Three of the four major holding companies are represented: WPP, Omnicom and Publicis. There has been no formal RFP, and all parties except Macy’s have declined to comment.


Macy’s is in talks with Ogilvy regarding its advertising business, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

Ogilvy representatives deferred to the client for comment this week. A Macy’s spokesperson wrote, “We are always assessing our options to identify the best partner for the Macy’s brand.”

According to our sources, however, the talks are ongoing and Ogilvy New York looks to “take on” the Macy’s business. This would be different from recent moves by the classic retailer, which has long eschewed an agency of record in favor of hiring shops on a per-project basis for work usually focused on the holiday sales season.

The most recent RFP, issued in late 2015, ended with Macy’s picking BBH and Figliulo&Partners for campaigns which included a tribute to the famous Thanksgiving Day Parade by the former agency’s New York office. This followed a split between Macy’s and former creative partner JWT after more than a decade. At the time, the client declined to comment on whether the decision to stop working with that agency had anything to do with the Erin Johnson/Gustavo Martinez case, which had been making headlines for several weeks at that point.

BBH declined to comment on its relationship with Macy’s today, but more than one party told us it did not work with the company beyond the 2016 holiday effort. A Figliulo&Partners representative had not yet responded to our email when this post went live, though recent reports stated that the agency has continued to work on the account in some capacity into this summer.

Last April, CMO Martine Reardon stepped down to be replaced by Richard Lennox of Toys ‘R Us, who then announced plans to lead a turnaround by focusing on digital, closing stores and reducing staff. BBDO veteran Jim Reath joined Macy’s as its new SVP of marketing this May after running the Lowe’s account for several years.

Despite its well-publicized struggles, Macy’s remains a huge advertiser. The company spent nearly $600 million on U.S. measured media in 2016 according to Kantar Media, and its holiday ads are some of the retail sector’s most-watched each year.