Macy's Marketing Magic Ties in Everything from Social Networks to Fashion Shows

Last Updated Nov 30, 2010 5:41 PM EST

While other retailers tie themselves up in knots trying to weave together traditional and online marketing, Macy's (M) has taken a unique approach that builds off early success to deliver an all encompassing Find Your Magic campaign for the holidays and every other event in the year.
What's remarkable about the program is that Macy's has taken an innovative Internet based promotion launched in the holidays two years ago and made it more dynamic, comprehensive and focused at the same time. Yet, it never wavers from the Macy's purpose of promoting a particular approach to fashion that combines corporate expertise and personalities behind its brand diverse as Martha Stewart (pictured) and Sean Combs.
Online, the retailer features fall fashion previews, style features hosted by What Not to Wear host and Macy's makeover consultant Clinton Kelly, video fashion tips and behind the scenes looks at how the retailer promotes and mounts fashion operations. Daily Fashion Challenges tempt consumers back to the site,

The Daily Fashion Challenges ask consumers to pull together special-occasion wardrobes online using Macy's fashions. Consumers can submit their outfits to a public vote to earn a $100 Macy's gift card. Social network tools allow participants to post their outfits on Facebook and Twitter, where friends and family can weigh in by to vote for entries.

Shades of American Idol, don't be surprised if the fashion challenges emerge as a significant fad. If viral videos of teens unpacking their day's clothing purchases can become major YouTube hits, the Macy's Daily Fashion Challenges, with its personal and Internet connections, has the potential to spiral into a virtual slam-dunk.

What sets Macy's apart in its marketing modernization is its ability to cleverly combine online, traditional and store-level marketing. In stores, Starting later this months, events at 23 Macy's stores, including New York, Chicago, Seattle, Kansas, Atlanta and New Orleans, will build on the Daily Fashion Challenges online as select shoppers style models with their fashion picks, with the same $100 gift card awarded after a mini-runway show to select a winner.

As with the online version, the store fashion challenge is a way to generate a lot of excitement on the cheap. Once major retailer would have to offer multi-thousand dollars to generate interest in a promotion. Now, the lure of online participation makes playing the game enough fun to permit the chintzy prize.

In a particularly novel link between store and technology, Macy's will run a Magic Fitting Room at its Herald Square, New York, flagship store. A mirror featuring touch technology lets users browse, shop and virtually try on fashions in the store then share them digitally online.

To ensure as many consumers as possible know about all the Magic, Macy's is running with 30- and 60-second television spots. They begin with a customer looking for shoes and proceed into a stock room where staff intermingles with Diddy, Martha, Tommy Hilfiger, Jennifer Lopez, Rachel Roy, Jessica Simpson (pictured), and Donald Trump as they ready their branded products for presentation during major store-related events. Those include the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 4th of July Fireworks and Flower Show.

The new Macy's program flows out of the online holiday initiative that it developed two years ago built around the famous Yes, Virginia defense of the holiday spirit. And Virginia O'Hanlon, whose question about the reality of Santa Claus promoted the defense, emerged as a feature character in that and the current promotion. However, Macy's major purpose was to introduce consumers to the new and existing, established and celebrity designers in the Macy's stable. That the new promotions features the same group, with some additions, attests to Macy's focus on using the broadest range of marketing vehicles to win the widest possible audience as it tries to entice department store shoppers but also mass-market devotees, as suggested by the presence of Stewart and Simpson.

Last year, Macy's took the Yes, Virginia idea and made it the theme of its entire holiday marketing campaign, including television and in-store efforts. Now, it is has adapted and expanded it to make it the spine of all the promotions it does the year long.

By building out from a single successful initiative, Macy's has created a big marketing initiative that ties a range of elements -- even Hispanic-oriented promotions -- into a nice neat bow. In doing so, the retailer jumped ahead of retail in general and competitors such as J.C. Penney (JCP) and Sears Holdings (SHLD) that are attempting large scale and sometimes commendable multi-media marketing programs but ones that remain scatter shot. Macy's drives its point home neatly.