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“Welcome to (Whose?) New Macy’s”

This weekend, as the respirator plug is pulled on Marshall Field’s once and for all, Federated will finally get to see how well their big advertising push to lure old Field’s customers to the new “Macy’s on State Street” has worked. My guess is not very. One look at the campaign’s commercials and printed ads easily shows why: where’s Chicago?

Seeking to quell the citywide consternation it caused last year by announcing the impending death of the Field’s nameplate, Federated embarked on the current marketing push as a way to win over public opinion. But if they truly want public opinion in their favor, their ads should have local flavor–and they don’t. Federated’s new ads are peppered with generic phrases like “Welcome to your new Macy’s” and “It’s a celebration across the nation”, and iconic images drawn from across the country. Sure, some ads feature the silhouette of the Sears Tower. But why on earth is it standing between the Empire State Building and the St. Louis Arch?

If there’s one best practice in public relations it’s that you should speak directly to your target audience. By casting a nationwide net with this most generic of generic ad campaigns, how on earth can Federated expect the effort will garner much loyalty from former Field’s fans? Where are the phrases like “We love Chicago”? “We’re proud to be on State Street?” Where are the fliers with panoramic shots of–exclusively–the Chicago skyline? Frankly, where is there evidence that this ad campaign was created with any local sense at all? Target Corp.’s ads were full of local flavor when they bought Field’s in the 1990s. Where is the same respect from the Federated camp?

Don’t get me wrong, my criticism doesn’t stem from sour grapes over a name change. I hate to see the Marshall Field’s nameplate go, but I’ve said before that without Federated Field’s wouldn’t have stood a chance. However, if you want my business in my town, it’s best to show that you know and respect my town.

I get part of the point of the national ads: I may travel across the country from time to time, and it’s always nice to see familiar retail faces in far-flung places. But if Federated really wants Chicagoan dollars, they need to locally can this milktoast ad campaign. Give it up Federated, time to tell me what you can do for me…in Chicago.

And this time, please get the street names right.

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(Read the Sun-Times review of the lackluster ad campaign here.)

Categories: Best Of Chicago Carless Macy's State Street Shopping

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

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11 replies

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  4. I don’t know if it was added recently, but I just viewed the Macy’s TV commercial you wrote about. Within the first 15 seconds they do indeed show Marina Towers in the visual. Granted, they don’t sing about Chicago, but they certainly show our “beloved” home.

    I don’t know what all the bitching was about if they had this in originally.

  5. Spy,

    It doesn’t hurt to try. Even if we can’t convince Federated to come to their senses (if they can keep 36 Bloomingdale’s, what’s 17, or even 1 Marshall Field’s?), then maybe we can at least send a stern warning to the next company who comes in wanting to change one of our landmark businesses.

  6. Well the only way Field’s is coming back is if Federated reverses their decision or if somewhere down the road Federated is acquired by another company who wants to bring back the Field’s name. Sadly, both are unlikely scenarios.

  7. So for their opening weekend they brought in Gilbert Gottfried. Gilbert. Gottfried. Even if I wanted to shop there, I would avoid them this weekend, and check very carefully to make sure it’s safe to go in the store before venturing in.

  8. I agree. But not only that, I think it makes every city that just got a new Macy’s feel second class.

    Macy’s may be happy about their new national reach, but why should anyone else care? The whole point of this ad campaign is, well, pointless.

    All any local shopper cares about is what you can do for them locally. And that message is absent in all of Federated’s “Hurray We’re National Now” hoopla. The only people dancing in the streets over this are Federated, themselves.

  9. Mike,

    This isn’t even the worst faux pas in their advertising. Apparently, in their ads that use “Dancing in the Streets”, the reference to Chicago has been replaced with one to St. Louis (???). At the same time, they kept the reference to New Orleans, even though Federated closed their stores in that city after Hurricane Katrina.

    I know that part of the reason for the single brand was to reduce the need for local advertising, but you’d think at the launch date they would have taken a more local approach. They need to prove to Chicago that they really care about the market (and I mean all stores in the area). Putting in an elevator to the 28 Shop at State and Washington Streets means nothing to the regular Oak Brook or Northbrook shopper. Alas, this ad campaign basically makes it seem like we’re second class in the Second City.

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