Macy's banks on back-to-school success to revive lagging sales
The uncertainty surrounding back-to-school is resulting in a lot of careful footwork on the part of marketers. The latest to debut a back-to-school campaign is Macy’s, which plans to release a 30-second spot touting its fall wares for kids on Sunday.
“At Macy’s, we know that no matter how we go back, school will be different this year,” a spokeswoman said via email. The new spot, which will air on TV and in digital channels, is a reflection of that sentiment. It shows all the possibilities that could take place this fall, including kids learning at home alone and with parents and electronic devices, and children with backpacks entering school. The ad closes with the text, “No matter how we school, let’s be ready.”
Many marketers have taken a wait-and-see approach to back-to-school, a strategy parents are also deploying with their purchases. While some districts have already announced plans for remote learning this fall, like in Los Angeles, or a hybrid approach of in-person and e-learning, as in New York City, others have yet to submit plans to parents as they wait on government approval. With the number of coronavirus cases continuing to rise, all possible scenarios for school this fall remain on the table.
Month-to-date advertising for back-to-school, as of July 20, was down 50 percent compared with a year ago, according to market research firm Numerator. Target and Walmart have been running TV ads for several days, but other brands such as Macy’s are just beginning to put marketing dollars toward the shopping season.
Already struggling before the pandemic, Macy’s has been particularly hard-hit, for both its stores in malls—many of which have closed or have had trouble attracting consumers recently due to virus concerns—and in urban areas like New York City, which was ravaged by the coronavirus early on. In late June, the department store chain announced 3,900 corporate job cuts. Rachel Shechtman, who was hired as Macy’s brand experience officer two years ago as part of its much-heralded purchase of her concept store Story, has also exited the brand, despite efforts to revive the Story shop-in-shop.
Net sales for the first quarter ended May 2 fell 45 percent to $3 billion; Macy’s lost nearly $3.6 billion in the period.
Macy’s worked with Chicago-based agency Major Behavior on its new back-to-school push. The retailer had named BBDO New York its creative agency-of-record three years ago. A Macy’s spokeswoman said BBDO is still the retailer’s AOR, though noted that Macy’s also works with “other partners.” Major Behavior tapped filmmakers to record their own families and children to star in the campaign.