With 99% of U.S. food banks reporting a surge in demand over the past year, Macy's is setting out to provide 10 million meals for Feeding America.
The retailer introduced its "Coming Together" campaign Sept. 15 with a star-studded event at its Herald Square location in New York. The campaign asks consumers to host dinners in their homes and encourage guests to donate to Feeding America in lieu of hostess gifts. Macy's plans to track and match those donations until 10 million meals are paid for. The retailer also tweeted earlier this week that it would donate one meal for every follower its @MacysInc Twitter feed has by Oct. 20, up to 35,000 followers. It currently has a little more than 2,000 followers.
"We're working very hard on the social media side," says Peter Sachse, Macy's chief marketing officer. "This particular campaign can become viral in a much more meaningful way than most."
There is also a significant mass media element, however. A new 60-second spot began running this week. It features Martha Stewart and Tommy Hilfiger being served dinner by Emeril Lagasse, and other celebrities join in, including Usher, Mariah Carey, Queen Latifah, Jessica Simpson and Donald Trump.
Mr. Sachse says the campaign, the latest in a series from Macy's that have a cause marketing component, started out as simply a fashion campaign.
"As we looked more and more at it, we said, 'Is there a greater societal piece of this?' And we came up with 'come together over dinner for a good cause,' " he says. "Feeding the hungry right now is one of our country's biggest problems, and we want to help. And we can."
Such campaigns have also proven hugely successful for the retailer in the past. It raised $4.1 million through its One Good Turn charity shopping day, part of its "Turn Over a New Leaf" eco-awareness campaign. It also donated $1 million to the Make-A-Wish Foundation as part of its "Believe" campaign, which ran during the 2008 holiday season.
"One of our major values is to give back," Mr. Sachse says. "I believe strongly that when we can connect both emotionally as well as intellectually on value and price with the customer, we will always win."
The Come Together website macys.com/cometogether relies heavily on star power, with Jessica Simpson, Martha Stewart, Donald Trump and Tommy Hilfiger all relaying messages. Customers can create invitations, research themes and compile menus with the help of Macy's Culinary Council chefs. They can also get tips on fall fashions or donate directly to Feeding America through the site.