NEW YORK — Everybody’s favorite bad banana is back with his greasy black peel intact, having taken up residence Monday evening throughout the Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship. The retailer managed to lure the green monster, whose heart is an empty hole and brain is full of spiders, from his perch atop snowy Mount Crumpit. The Grinch is actually on loan to the department store from Illumination and Universal Pictures, whose animated film “The Grinch” opens Friday.
“Bloomingdale’s is a place that’s of the moment and we look to connect with partners who can help augment the holiday shopping experience,” said Frank Berman, the retailer’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “Last year, we had Zendaya from ‘The Greatest Showman.’ We continue to partner with entertainment partners and other partners. We want to position ourselves as the gift-giving destination while adding an emotional element.”
In “The Grinch” movie, the title character, a cynical grump played by Benedict Cumberbatch, undertakes a mission to steal Christmas from the Whos, a naively trusting bunch who are the very embodiment of Christmas.
The film plays a starring role at Bloomingdale’s, with the Grinch’s story woven through the retailer’s holiday catalogue. “Look at how the Grinch is incorporated in such a sophisticated manner,” Berman said. “We have him animated on our web site. He chimes into fashion stories. We love the visualization of him. We took inspiration from the film and presented the Grinch in an over-the-top manner. In the windows, there’s a giant image of his head full of green fur. If you get close, you can see he has crazy green eyebrows made from feathers.
“It’s not just Grinch, but his dog, Max, who’s encrusted in crystals,” Berman said. “The windows have a gift-amatic gift machine transforming items.”
Berman said the enduring appeal of the Grinch story is its ability to “take everyone back to a time in their childhood. You watch the evolution of the Grinch, from this curmudgeon whose miserable life is put in perspective by a small child, Cindy Lou Who. The Grinch is very naughty by nature character, and also a fun and whimsical character. All of us get caught up with the things we need to get done and lose sight of what’s important, as the Grinch does. That’s where Bloomingdale’s can make a connection,” Berman said, referring to gifts.
Bloomingdale’s Lexington Avenue windows, each with an interactive element to engage consumers, provide a vista of the village of Whoville. One window allows viewers to take selfies, which then appear next to a large-scale representation of the Grinch’s head and some of his snarky jeers. Another window makes music by pressing buttons under the watchful eye of Max, the Grinch’s long-suffering dog, emitting organ sounds. In the same window, a telescope popping out of the glass lets viewers peer inside Whoville.
Another window features karaoke and singing the lyrics of classic holiday tunes. The Whos declare in the movie their goal of making Christmas three times bigger this year, much to the Grinch’s annoyance. In the final window, the Whoville Christmas tree is so big and festive, it breaks through the glass of the window.
The flagship will have several exclusive features, including a map of the building that calls out highlights from the lower level to the eighth floor. There’s an in-store ice skating rink next to a hot chocolate bar, where professional skaters will glide on the virtual ice. Life-size Instagrammable snowballs, which consumers can get inside, carry themes such as snowy night. There’s a virtual reality sleigh ride on the second floor, as well as a station for creating a live action figure that scans body measurements on a 3-D Kodak printer. An ice bar, and Santaland on the sixth floor round out the experience.
Berman noted that “The Grinch” holiday campaign is supporting longtime philanthropic partner the Child Mind Institute with the sale of limited-edition Little Brown Bears. For every bear bought for the regular price of $20, Bloomingdale’s donates $4 to the organization, which works with children struggling with mental health and learning disorders.