Macy's Enchants for the Holidays With Tale of Wish-Granting Pen

Retailer Returns to 'Believe' Campaign for Eighth Year

Published On
Nov 02, 2015

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Macy's is back this year for the eighth season of its "Believe" holiday campaign, which continues the holiday tradition of generosity.

This time around, the department store chain has produced a three-minute film online featuring a magic pen that grants wishes and encourages children to believe in the spirit of the season.

The film, created out of JWT New York and directed by Filip Enstrom of Smuggler, centers on a wishful girl during the holidays. It opens with her looking out of her window longingly as a neighborhood kid gets a new puppy, then turning back to watch on her family's TV "Yes, Virginia," the animated special Macy's and JWT had created in 2009 as part of the "Believe" campaign. The film is based on a letter written by a young girl, Virginia O'Hanlon, to the New York Sun asking about the existence of Santa, and the response she then receives from its editor, Francis Church.

After Virginia pens her inquiry, in the new ad, the pen falls onto the floor, and in a magical turn, ends up in the living room of the girl from the spot. She picks it up and begins to write down her own wishes, embarking on a chain of generous gift-giving deeds with the help of the pen, which seems to make all her hopes a reality. (Fortunately, she's a good-natured kid, and you can only imagine what could happen if it got into the hands of a greedy brat.)

The video will be cut up into 15-, 30-, and 60-second spots to air on TV. The spot goes live online today (Nov. 2.) As part of the campaign, Macy's will also sell a $14.99 Wish Writer stylus to be used on the brand's app, where kids can participate in digital holiday-themed activities such as building a snowman and decorating cookies. A portion of sales will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"The star of the commercial is the magic pen, and we were trying to find another way to get engagement -- this idea of gamification is the way to do it," said Martine Reardon, CMO of Macy's. "It's our twist of bringing something traditional and nostalgic to the modern way the generations of today work, which is on mobile devices and through apps." Though she declined to comment on the campaign's budget, she said the retailer is spending more this year than in 2014.

Ironically, one of the film's themes appears to lament our reliance on technology. One scene in the ad features a man and woman who are paying attention to their mobile phones rather than to each other, so the girl wishes for mistletoe, which distracts -- at least temporarily -- the couple from their devices.

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