For its 2008 holiday advertising, Macy’s is not simply counting on price promoting and pushing values. In a marketing twist, nostalgia and a charity connection will play a big part in the effort to drive families to the stores.

This story first appeared in the October 31, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Macy’s “Believe” campaign kicks off Nov. 9 and is inspired by the New York Sun’s famous editorial in 1897 written by newsman Francis P. Church in response to a letter from eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon in 1897 asking if there is a Santa Claus. Church responded with an essay on the importance of believing, writing, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist.”

Macy’s — the setting for the classic film “Miracle on 34th Street” about Santa — is setting up “Believe stations” in all of its stores with chairs and desks and special mailboxes for children to write letters and send them to Santa. The letters should be stamped and addressed to Santa At The North Pole. For each one mailed, Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, up to $1 million. The charity grants the wishes of children with life-threatening conditions.

Macy’s is also running a national television spot on network and cable channels and Believe ads will appear in 300 newspapers as well as December magazines. There will be full-page reprints of the famous Sun editorial and smaller ads. The campaign will also be online.

The television spot will feature the personalities behind several of Macy’s key exclusive brands including Jessica Simpson, Martha Stewart, Carlos Santana, Tommy Hilfiger and Kenneth Cole. They will be reciting lines from “Yes, Virginia.” A Spanish-language version will feature Santana, Ana de la Reguera and Carlos Ponce.

Even Donald Trump, who sells his merchandise at Macy’s and is not generally associated with warmth and fuzziness, appears in the ad. “Donald [plays] a very important part. Once you see the spot you will melt,” said Peter Sachse, president of Macy’s Inc.’s corporate marketing and chief marketing officer, during a conference call Thursday.

Sachse stressed Macy’s will still be very value oriented in its overall holiday advertising. “We always have aggressive promotional campaigns for Black Friday. [This year] will be no different. We expect to get more than our share of folks into our stores.”

JWT New York was the agency responsible for the creative development in collaboration with Macy’s. The Vox Collective was the agency partner for the Spanish-language advertising. Macy’s has long been a supporter of Make-A-Wish. Through donations and thousands of volunteers, the charity grants a wish every 40 minutes.�