Macy's Promo, Case study YES, VIRGINIA

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Media Promo & PR, Case study
Released July 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Best Use of Media Relations
Advertiser: MACY'S
Product/Service: TV SHOW
Writer: Chris Plehal (JWT New York)
Producer: Kallan Kagan (The Ebeling Group)
Producer: Kate Schwerin (JWT New York)
Co-Executive Producer: Robin Feldman (JWT New York)
Executive Creative Director: Wayne Best (JWT New York)
Creative Director: Matt MacDonald (JWT New York)
Music: Nicholas Hooper (Cool Music)
Director: Pete Circuitt (Bitstate)
Exectuive Producer: Dexton Deboree (The Ebeling Group)
Executive Producer: Mick Ebeling (The Ebeling Group)
Chief Creative Officer: Harvey Marco (JWT New York)
Chief Creative Officer: Ty Montague (JWT North America)
Accout Director: Helena Touseull (JWT New York)
Director of Integrated Production: Clair Grupp (JWT New York)
Global Account Director: Beth Waxman-Arteta (JWT New York)
Director Of Brand Production: Joe Calabrese (JWT New York)
Executive Producer: Joe Fezcko (Macy's)
Consulting Producer: Betsy Spence (Macy's)
Global Communications Director: Erin Johnson (JWT)
Media placement: :30/:63 Sec Trailers -,,, - 20 November 2009
Media placement: Media Launch Event - Original Home Of Virginia O'Hanlon - 5 December 2009
Media placement: Show Poster - Macy's In-Store/ Media Event/ Press Kit - 5 December 2009
Media placement: Website - - 11 December 2009
Media placement: B-Roll/In-Program Media Announcements - CBS Early Show, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Access Hollywood - 4 December 2009

Summary of the Campaign
The TV special - “Yes, Virginia” was conceived from a brief to extend and deepen Macy’s “Believe” holiday marketing platform from 2008. The central inspiration of the campaign was the famous “Yes, Virginia” editorial that ran in The New York Sun in 1897 that expressed the importance and power of “Believing.” The challenge was to successfully debut this new 30-minute holiday special among a crowded field of old favourites, as well as other newcomers. What’s more “Yes, Virginia” needed to be accepted as a true holiday classic versus an extension of an ad campaign. This required a delicate balance of pitching the entertainment media, as well as advertising trade press to generate buzz before and after it aired. All told, “Yes, Virginia” generated upwards to 1.84 billion media impressions. When the half-hour animated holiday special aired on CBS on Dec. 11, 2009, 3.7 million people tuned in. What’s more, the groundswell of press surrounding the show helped lift overall exposure for Macy’s during its critical retail season amid a soft economic climate. “Yes, Virginia” is now an established property that will help anchor Macy’s future holiday marketing efforts, as well as serve as a long-term revenue generator.

The Goal
“Yes, Virginia’s” PR outreach needed to accomplish many things. It needed to introduce the show to the entertainment press and garner favourable reviews. It also needed to raise interest among the ad trades. Perhaps most importantly, it needed to communicate to all that “Yes, Virginia” wasn’t a 30-minute ad for Macy’s. It was a new holiday classic created in conjunction with A-List voiceover talent (Neal Patrick Harris), top animators (Starz) and other best-in-class collaborators. The quality of the show itself reflected the quality of the Macy’s brand, which needed to shine during a tough holiday selling season.

“Yes, Virginia” cemented itself as a new holiday classic and a franchise that will continue to generate revenue through merchandise, DVD sales and other channels. “Yes, Virginia” reached more than 3.7 million viewers. PR resulted in a substantial lift in overall exposure during Macy’s most critical season with 1.84 billion impressions generated. On the night of the show, “Yes, Virginia” was Google’s No. 1 and No.4 hottest search terms. “Yes, Virginia” made TV Guide’s coveted Hot List. USA Today said, “Like Santa himself, Virginia should be a welcome Christmas visitor for years to come.” The Parents Television Council named it the Best TV Show of the Week. Holiday sales for the five-week period ending Jan. 2, 2010 achieved Macy’s sales goals: $4.4 billion in sales, 1% growth in same-store sales and 29% growth of

· Made the celebrity talent announcement to print and broadcast entertainment outlets. · Pitched a wide variety of media to promote tune-ins including national talk shows and entertainment news programmes. · Held a special screening for the cast, media and members of Virginia O’Hanlon’s family at the original O’Hanlon residence on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. · The ad trades were briefed on this one-of-a-kind special, which is arguably the first-ever full-length animated holiday special created entirely by an advertising agency. · Reached out to top-tier sites and mommy/family blogs to set up special screenings and/or invites to premiere. · Pitched reviews to key media. · Sent exclusive photos to weeklies and online outlets. · Assets were deployed both online and in-store at Macy’s across the country. · Partnered with CBS to utilise all tune-in opportunities via the network’s properties. · Worked in conjunction with local area Make-a-Wish Foundations.

The Situation
Macy’s wanted to extend its successful “Believe” holiday efforts. At its centre was The New York Sun’s “Yes, Virginia” editorial from a young girl named Virginia asking if Santa Claus existed. An idea was born to create an animated holiday special that embraced the power of believing. The PR campaign needed to introduce the world to the story, achieve serious reviews for the special—versus having it perceived as a piece of branded entertainment—and in turn draw viewers. Our biggest obstacle was that the voice talent did not do any media interviews despite the great interest from the press.

The Strategy
We wanted to reach people across America to drive tune-ins for this new holiday classic. Our strategy was to reach the entertainment press, the ad trades and the blogosphere. For the entertainment press, we told the story of Virginia, and how new holiday classics can make a splash in the crowded landscape of holiday TV shows. We knew that our big-name voice talent would help tell this story. We focused heavily on getting the show reviewed. For the ad trades, we told the story of a well-known retailer taking on branded entertainment in a fresh way that had never been done before. Social media amplified both messages. Among the press angles: · Announced “Yes, Virginia” as a new animated holiday special. · Touted the celebrity cast. · “Yes, Virginia” actress Beatrice Miller positioned as one to watch. · Explained that it was based on the true story of Virginia O’Hanlon.