At a time when gender dynamics are increasingly in the spotlight, many brands are incorporating the issue into their advertising. Last month, Hallmark showcased a girl who preferred to be Luke instead of Leia for Halloween. Now, Macy’s is offering a new twist on Santa, the legendary man in the red suit, with its holiday spot.
In a two-minute spot, appropriately called “Santa Girl,” a young girl aspires to be Santa, complete with belly, reindeer and red suit. Despite a bully’s jeers about a beard, she is helped by her parents to get her wish. The video ends with the text “Believe in the wonder.” The young girl, played by actress Brooklynn Prince, is named Virginia, in a nod to Virginia O’Hanlon, the girl who famously wrote to her local newspaper more than a century ago about the reality of Santa—a narrative Macy’s has tapped into in previous marketing.
The department store chain worked with its creative agency BBDO New York on the spot, which will air in a 30-second version on TV and social channels. The campaign’s theme will be also be featured in the windows of Macy’s Herald Square flagship store in New York.
Using longer, emotional content is not new to Macy’s, which last year featured an astronaut in space away from her daughter, and in 2017 ran a spot about a child and a lighthouse. The spots are less product, price and promotion-focused than that of other retailers Macy’s competes with. Target on Friday began airing a holiday anthem spot incorporating dozens of the products it sells.
Macy’s has struggled for years to maintain sales as it faces mounting competition from Amazon. While innovations like the acquisition and incorporation of rotating-concept shop Story, have helped to add a bright spot to sales, the chain recently reported earnings far below analyst expectations. For the second quarter, net sales were $5.5 billion, essentially flat to the year-earlier period. The retailer also revised its outlook for the year, expecting same-store sales, which measure performance of stores open a year or more, to be flat or up 1 percent.