NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- There was a time when Martine Reardon sat across the river from Macy's at the department store Abraham & Strauss in Brooklyn, admiring her rival's advertising campaigns and iconic events. Two decades later, Ms. Reardon, exec VP-marketing, is responsible for shepherding the 150-year-old retailer's marketing, promotions, public relations and annual events, a job she likens to letting a kid loose in a candy shop.
Ms. Reardon, 47, took on her new role following Macy's reorganization earlier this year. And while it's clear she's thrilled with the possibilities, she's also serious about her role as custodian of the institution she once admired from afar.
"In these kinds of times, the fast approach is to just put it all on sale," she said. "Every now and then I have to stop myself and say, 'Is this really right for the brand? Is this who the brand is? Is this what the customer recognizes as the brand?' ... We're a major force in [our consumers] lives, so we have to be careful not to betray that trust."
As Macy's has reorganized itself, consolidating divisions and creating local offices that manage 10 to 12 stores, Ms. Reardon's job has become more challenging. There are now 69 geographic districts, all of which have local marketing nuances and unique event programs. Striking the right balance between local and national advertising is an essential piece of the My Macy's strategy and one that competitors are surely watching very closely.
"It's a critical role, a pivotal role," said Janet Grove, vice chairman at Macy's. "She has a global view but is also close enough to the people she manages and the business day to day that she is very articulate on every level. And she has incredible stamina and energy."
'The art of marketing'
That energy and passion for marketing was apparent to those around Ms. Reardon early on, even if it wasn't immediately apparent to her. She interned during college in the PR and events department at Abraham & Strauss under Doris Shaw, who was then the head of marketing.
But after graduating, Ms. Reardon was set to enter the retailer's training program to become either a buyer or store manager, when Ms. Shaw whispered in her ear. "She said, 'You don't really want to do that. Marketing and PR is your love, your passion -- I can see it,'" Ms. Reardon recounted. "She was right. ... She's just a wealth of knowledge, and she really taught me the art of marketing."
Now, Ms. Reardon herself is mentoring, including, informally, her nieces. Her eldest niece would like to go into retail marketing.
Ms. Grove calls her, "one of the best managers that I've seen in a long, long time."