Macy's Sticks With Celeb-Filled Ads

CMO Says Campaign Has Raised Awareness of Brands Retailer Stocks

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NEW YORK ( -- The stars continue to align for Macy's.

The retailer's latest round of celeb-filled commercials breaking later this week build on a concept introduced last fall in which various celebrities and designers who sell namesake brands are seen working at the store. For the spring season there are two new spots, both directed by Barry Levinson, who won an Academy Award for his direction of "Rain Man."
This spot featuring Mariah Carey and Carlos Santana also has a Spanish-language version.
This spot featuring Mariah Carey and Carlos Santana also has a Spanish-language version.

Ga-ga for Gabriel Aubry
In the first commercial, Gabriel Aubry, a Calvin Klein model and father of Halle Berry's newborn daughter, strolls through the store attracting appreciative glances from the likes of Mariah Carey and Martha Stewart. Ms. Stewart is so distracted by his presence that she drops a plate from her collection with Wedgewood. Donald Trump, meanwhile, looks on from his department and declares, "So very shallow," as the women fawn over Mr. Aubry. In the second spot (which also has a Spanish version), Carlos Santana riffs on his guitar, inspired by his footwear line and Ms. Carey's fragrance. Ms. Carey chimes in with vocals.

The first spot airs Sunday on Spanish networks, while two other commercials roll out on network and cable TV channels beginning next week. WPP's Group's JWT, New York, handled the creative, while sibling Mediaedge:cia developed the media campaign, which runs through May.

During an interview at his New York office, Macy's Chief Marketing Officer Peter Sachse said that the campaign has served as a powerful tool for raising awareness about brands the retailer stocks. "The thing we took away most from our fall campaign was how many people came in and said, 'I didn't know you had Jessica Simpson shoes' or 'I didn't know you had Donald Trump dress shirts,'" he said. "We think everybody knows that we carry these things, but really the consumer doesn't."

He said consumers get a kick out of the tongue-in-cheek banter among the famous faces. And for that, Mr. Sachse credits Mr. Levinson. "It's a really cool collaboration process," Mr. Sachse said. "[Barry] lets them ad lib and just go, and we get great film because of it."

Performing beyond expectations
Although Mr. Sachse declined to discuss specific data, he did say that from a qualitative, quantitative and anecdotal perspective the commercials have been viewed as a success. He also noted that businesses featured in the spots, including the Donald Trump line, Jessica Simpson shoes and Usher fragrance, performed beyond expectations after a turn in the spotlight.

"Time and time again we saw what we put in those spots, the consumer actually responded to at the point of sale," Mr. Sachse said. "You wouldn't think we would have gotten as direct of a link from a spot like that."

Given those results, the retailer has already committed to third- and fourth-quarter renditions. And the competition among Macy's various celebrity-branded labels for face time during the commercials is heating up.

"There are many more people raising their hands," he said, "that would like to be a part of it."
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