Posted by Caroline Smith on November 15, 2010 04:00 PM
The majority of retailers seem to jump right from Halloween to Christmas with nothing more than a mere nod towards Thanksgiving and a few glittery gourds in the window display. Based purely on the gathering together of family, it is a holiday which does not require much decoration, dressing up or gift-giving.
But this is America, and we cannot let that slide!
Luckily, Macy’s saves the day on Nov. 25 with its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, chock full of tethered (and untethered) commercialism. After all, the retail giant has a Black Friday sale the day after to promote — and holiday shoppers to excite, of course.
Cue its child-oriented marketing machine, including the extended commercial that is Yes, Virginia — its animated special airing on CBS on Dec. 17.
Bringing the man in the red suit to its store, literally, is its 84th annual Thanksgiving parade. The iconic event began in New York in 1924, and has evolved from featuring professional bands and animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo to Disney Channel pop stars and balloons in the shape of Buzz Lightyear, Shrek and the Pillsbury Doughboy, among others.
This year’s crop of inflatable newcomers includes characters from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid novels and Kung Fu Panda, the DreamWorks film whose second installment is due out next May. Float sponsors include Nickelodeon, Office Max, Morton Salt, the Scripps-owned Food Network channel, Ocean Spray and Delta Airlines.
This year, Macy’s is also trying to up its brand’s cool factor, with performances by Kanye West and Kylie Minogue and promotional partnerships with Microsoft’s Kinect to lure teens onto its shop floors. The store has also expanded its international outreach with an appearance by Colombian star Juanes, who will perform in Spanish, and a bilingual Dora the Explorer float.
While the parade does have an underlying feel of brand promotion, it remains one of America’s most noted traditions, anticipated by eager children and nostalgic adults across the country.
According to Amy Kule, the parade’s executive producer, “The parade isn't so much a commercial entity as an entertainment one. It's also something everyone knows. Even if you grew up in the Midwest, you knew about the parade, you knew about Miracle on 34th Street. It's helped us become a truly national brand. So that creates a rub-off for every other brand involved in the parade.”
So while the grinches among us can write the parade off as more revenue-building fanfare, it seems more festive to simply sit back with a cup of cocoa (or glass of champagne) and wait for Santa to appear after the commercial break. And if Macy's has anything to do with it, that commercial break will come during Yes, Virginia, the return of its animated retelling of the Miracle on 34th Street that airs in the US on CBS on Dec. 17 (and premiered last Christmas).
In the lead-up to the TV special, Macy's is inviting kids to give them their letters for Santa. In return, Macys will make a donation for every letter received in stores or online to help kids in the return of its "Believe" holiday campaign to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation. Virginia would be proud.