Ad of the Day: BBH Gets Nostalgic for Macy’s in Salute to the Thanksgiving Day Parade

Grand ad is affecting, but is it too wistful?

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.

CREDITS

Client: Macy's

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

Film Credits

Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks

Director: Noam Murro

DP: Simon Duggan

Executive Producer: Rick Jarjoura

Producer: Charlotte Woodhead

Head of Production: Shawn Lacy

Postproduction

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