One of the most famous and well-loved marketing events is headed our way at 9 am EST this Thursday, on Thanksgiving morning. The 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade boasts 50 Million TV viewers via NBC and Telemundo broadcast, 3.5 Million live viewers along the parade route in NYC, and 8,000 people participating in the parade itself.
Macy’s , the historic department store giant, has organized this annual tradition since 1924, and started with store employees, floats, bands, and live animals on loan from the Central Park Zoo. In more recent years the parade, and its millions of spectators, have attracted a huge roster of brands looking to connect with the American family. Macy’s over-riding goal of the parade is not to get a brand in front of people, but to provide authentic, wholesome, family entertainment. Brands that understand and embrace this can reap huge halo benefits.
Designed and built by the engineers and craftspeople at Macy's Parade Studio, the floats each tell a story, reflect their sponsor brand’s essence, and host an entertainment element. Everything is carefully crafted to produce that warm, fuzzy, American holiday feeling.
Of course, the brands and their balloons and/or floats are prominent, visible and highly anticipated throughout the parade. But they also score a national TV mention, as the TV hosts on NBC and Spanish language Telemundo stop to describe their presence in detail. This year will see a bigger emphasis in bi-lingual and Spanish language inclusion from several sponsors, including a new Dora and Friends float.
Sponsoring the parade takes a significant commitment. Neither Macy’s nor the parade sponsors publish dollar figures, but estimates and guesses are offered each year. Constructions costs on a new float can top $100,000, and then there are additional costs for musical performers, storage, securing the spot in the parade, and of course the TV time. Estimates range from $200,000 to $5 Million per year, for the one day event.
Few sponsors expand their commitment to the parade beyond their parade appearances, but applying brand activation techniques can leverage their participation significantly. One brand that does this well is Timberland, the parade’s official outerwear sponsor. The brand has been known to outfit every one of the thousands of volunteers, from head to toe, bringing an authentic connection for everyone involved.
Like all modern marketing events, the parade will be more interactive than ever this year. All Macy’s social channels will be sharing behind the scenes and images from backstage. A free app will be available for download, offering behind the scenes info, content, and a photo engagement to turn yourself into an Elf balloon. The site (http://Macys.com/parade ) will host animated videos, and live panoramic photos taken along the route from a float.
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