Macy’s Ad is a Shoo-in for Holiday Favorite

In Dad's Shoes



Christmas ads are often seen as a peculiarly British tradition. It’s true that UK retailers pioneered the big Christmas blockbuster ads, but these days we find and test just as many from overseas. And it’s often the US examples that perform best – maybe because there’s less media pressure on them and they can just get on with being good ads!

One of the best US holiday ads this year comes from department store Macy’s. The brand always makes an effort at Christmas time, but doesn’t always hit the emotional spot – in 2018, for instance, it got plenty of press attention for an ad themed around Christmas greetings from an astronaut, but audiences were more lukewarm.

In 2020, though, Macy’s came down to Earth, with an ad which sums up a lot of what’s been successful in the 2020 holiday ads season. “In Dad’s Shoes” is about a father and daughter. She wants to buy him a present but doesn’t know what. Cue a spot of Christmas magic, and she finds herself wearing Dad’s shoes and transformed into her father in the eyes of all who meet her. Following the shoes’ direction, she goes about her father’s business all day and realises what gift would really make a difference to him…

It’s a sweet fairytale-style ad with no great ambitions or special effects but with a ton of heart, and viewers loved it, rewarding it with a massive 5.9-Star score. It also did very well on short-term Spike (1.43) despite underperforming on Fluency.

What do Macy’s get right here? Christmas 2020 is clearly a tough one for many, and it’s been a difficult year. Ads which have addressed the coronavirus pandemic directly have tended to perform poorly – people don’t want to be reminded of what’s been happening.

But equally they don’t necessarily want pure escapism either. It’s striking how many of the successful ads this year are low-key – vignettes of family or local life rather than fantastic blockbusters. (Even Aldi’s Kevin The Carrot just wants to get home to his family this year).

Macy’s is a great example of this. The emotional centre of the ad isn’t just the girl and her Dad, it’s the way that by becoming her Dad for a day she realises how close he is to the rest of his community. In a year where family, home and community have become such lynchpins of people’s lives, Macy’s strike just the right note. Ads don’t have to be spectacular to tell a special story.