By and  on September 6, 2006

NEW YORK — The nationwide branding of Macy's is under way.

On Thursday, the store's parent Federated Department Stores will unleash its biggest and splashiest ad campaign ever. The marketing represents a key plank in Federated's $17 billion acquisition of May Department Stores last year and its strategy to convert the May formats to Macy's. That process culminates Saturday when 400 former May doors are renamed Macy's, bringing the chain to over 800 locations.

Sources close to the effort said Federated is spending $90 million to $100 million on the campaign. Federated, which does $27 billion in annual sales including Macy's and Bloomingdale's, would not disclose the budget, but it's significant considering money previously poured into advertising regional nameplates on their way to becoming Macy's, such as Filene's, Hecht's, Foley's, Kaufman's, Famous Barr, Strawbridge's, Marshall Field's and L.S. Ayres, now goes just to Macy's.

Terry Lundgren, Federated's president, chief executive and chairman, said that by taking Macy's national, the company saves on production and personnel costs that would otherwise be spread over a slew of regional operations and can bring in higher quality talent, advertise on better TV programs, getting more bang for its advertising buck. "Last year at this time, we were putting in all this money in different markets, plus all this expense going to just Macy's," Lundgren said. "Now, it's going to look like a huge increase in advertising, but in reality, it's a combination of all those splinter messages into Macy's. It's about the same for the entire fall season, but with more [being spent] for the launch."

"We will be one of the more significant media spenders in the retail space," added Anne MacDonald, president of Macy's Corporate Marketing and the company's chief marketing officer.

For a retailer that has long relied heavily on coupons, clearances and point-of-sale markdowns to draw traffic, the relaunch is an opportunity to elevate the approach to telling the Macy's story; sharpen the brand's focus on two primary target audiences, working women and Hispanics, and beef up special events and charitable activities.

The centerpiece of the advertising portion of the campaign is a 30-second "brand launch" ad and a 30-second private label ad that bow Thursday on national broadcast and cable television. Both ads are bouncy, with a mix of animation, real models and a reworked version of the Motown hit song "Dancing in the Streets." The original was sung by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas; Reeves sings the Macy's version.

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