Why Macy’s Is Banking on Fashion Celebs, Digital This Spring

Macy’s has been serving up fashion advice via a series of “irreverent” celebrity-studded Web videos. The department store, which saw same store sales increase 3.7 percent in February, has tapped style gurus like Martha Stewart, Donald Trump, Clinton Kelly, and Rachel Roy to guide consumers through real life challenges—like what to wear when meeting your ex-boyfriend for coffee. (Agencies JWT, New York, and Mediaedge:cia handled creative and media buying duties, respectively.) The goal, said Martine Reardon, Macy’s marketing evp, is to give consumers the confidence and style tips they need to “put it all together.” The effort, she said, stemmed from research that showed consumers wanted more than just “fashion advice from Macy’s.” Reardon recently chatted with Brandweek about why Macy’s is leaning heavily on digital for its spring campaign. Excerpts are below.


Brandweek: Macy’s most recently launched a series of “irreverent” web videos and daily fashion challenges on its new Fashion Director site. What’s the thinking behind this?
Martine Reardon:
Actually, it was based on a great deal of consumer insights and research we had done to try to understand what would motivate [our consumers] a little more and what they were looking for from a brand like Macy’s to help them with their “fashion editing,” if you will. And hands down, what they told us was that they love to look to Macy’s for fashion advice, but they wanted more than just fashion advice. They are almost looking for us to help them put some looks together. They kind of know what they like, but sometimes, they are a little intimidated. So, we came up with this idea of helping them put it all together, which is what the campaign is about, and from there, we asked ourselves, “What tools can we give them to help them put it all together?”

BW: How is this playing out in-store? How did Macy’s come up with the idea for the fashion challenge?
MR:
You’ll see a lot of it in store. You’ll see a lot of new mannequins present—mannequins that show you an entire look, tables that show the accessories that go with a certain outfit. It’s not just about an outfit anymore—it’s about the handbag, the hat and the accessories that go with it. And, [when it came to actually executing the campaign], we [turned to] online. It’s such an important part of our media mix. We know the consumer likes to play games. It’s a fun activity for them. We came up with the idea of the fashion challenge from paper dolls—how you could put together one look for them and, how, if you just changed the top or bottom, it’d create a new look. So, we built a pretty robust web site on Macys.com and we built the rest of the technology out to create this microsite, called Fashion Director. We shot all of our hot trends this season, and there are over 400 items on that site. It’s the most important fashion trends. We call them our “Hot List” items. They’re the key pieces you need to look hot this season, but they can also [be paired] to create different outfits.

BW: And the web videos? (Rachel Roy, Donald Trump, Clinton Kelly and Martha Stewart star in the “mockumentary-style short films.”)
MR:
Because our brand is very approachable and a little whimsical, and because we’ve got a lot of celebrity designers we work with, we thought, “Let’s make sure we’re involving them in this campaign,” so there are various videos that are up online now—Martha Stewart, Donald Trump, [Clinton Kelly] and Rachel Roy—and the idea behind these little Webisodes is that each one of these folks takes on a challenge of how to put something together. [It ties in with the idea of] our 30-day fashion challenge, where, each day, we put a new challenge out there. It’s really to get all of our online viewers to help folks with these fashion challenges: One might be, “You’re meeting your ex-boyfriend for coffee. You haven’t seen him in two years and you want to look your best. What should you wear?” So, the idea is, you go out and start to put these outfits together and you share them with your friends, they vote on them and [the one that receives the most votes] that day wins a $500 gift card. [The Fashion Challenge launched March 8.]