The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Macy’s vs. Toys “R” Us

Discussion
Nov 10, 2015
George Anderson

The general consensus is that the 2015 holiday season will build on the gains posted by retailers in 2014. Research by Accenture, for example, found that 40 percent of consumers plan to spend more for the holidays this year, up from 25 percent who gave the same answer in last year’s survey.

While the prognosis is relatively bright, that doesn’t mean the competition will be any less intense. For some retailers, this is the time to give stakeholders hope that recent gains will continue, while others are looking to show signs that a turnaround is underway.

Throughout this holiday selling season, our RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge (now in its third year) will offer up commercials from two different retailers for you to critique. In the end, we will put all the winners up for a vote to judge which retailer did the most effective job in communicating with its core customers and targeted prospects.

Up today are videos from Macy’s and Toys "R" Us. Each spot is clearly designed to tug at the heartstrings. Macy’s "The Wish Writer" is a longer format piece tied to a campaign to raise funds for the Make a Wish Foundation. Toys "R" Us’ "Christmas Tree" is a 60-second spot that focuses on sharing the spirit of the season and is part of the chain’s larger "Awwwesome" branding and sales promotion campaign.

Will making an emotional connection lead to consumers making more purchases between now and the end of the year at Macy’s and Toys "R" Us? That remains to be seen. For now, it’s up to you to choose which of the two spots is more effective.

[Image: Macy's]
The Wish Writer – Macy’s/YouTube

[Image: Toys 'R' Us]
Christmas Tree – Toys "R" Us/YouTube

What is your critique of Macy’s “The Wish Writer” and Toys “R” Us’ “Christmas Tree”? Which do you think does a better job of connecting with the chain’s core customer base while also reaching out to prospective shoppers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"While both ads highlight the good feeling one gets when thinking about others, I like the Macy’s spot. It fits better with the store’s Make-A-Wish tie-in and with the store itself."
"I like both ads quite a bit and think that the focus on altruism is very effective. After all, your holiday shoppers are generally buying gifts for others, and getting them excited about doing something nice encourages people to shop more to find the "perfect" gift."
"If these two ads don’t get you excited for Christmas then you’re likely in line to post a viral video that rants against something perceived as anti-Christmas!"

Join the Discussion!

16 Comments on "The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Macy’s vs. Toys “R” Us"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
5 years 24 days ago

While both ads highlight the good feeling one gets when thinking about others, I like the Macy’s spot. It fits better with the store’s Make-A-Wish tie-in and with the store itself.

Zel Bianco
Guest
5 years 24 days ago

I like both ads quite a bit and think that the focus on altruism is very effective. After all, your holiday shoppers are generally buying gifts for others, and getting them excited about doing something nice encourages people to shop more to find the “perfect” gift.

For me, the Macy’s ad does a far more compelling job by incorporating magic into the experience. The story is heart warming and hits a lot of the right notes for getting people into the Christmas spirit. Ending the ad with Macy’s and how magical it looks at this time of year is a very smart move. (If only Macy’s wasn’t so crowded!)

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
Guest
5 years 24 days ago

Both videos do indeed pull at the heart strings. Obviously, the longer Macy’s spot provides interesting emotional entertainment. However, the shorter Toys “R” Us spot is succinct and effective as well. As a tie-breaker, I vote for Macy’s since they communicate to their customers their commitment to helping others during the holiday times.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
5 years 24 days ago

I like both ads. They are well done and go back to the theme of both Macy’s and Toys “R” Us. I like Toys “R” Us better. It is shorter and easily gets to the point of the holidays. Macy’s is good. Effective, but too long. Both are heartwarming and bring smiles to your face.

W. Frank Dell II
Guest
5 years 24 days ago

Macy’s does a great job of creating a giving theme. The range is wide, which supports their broad merchandise.

Naomi K. Shapiro
Guest
Naomi K. Shapiro
5 years 24 days ago

Both ads are entertaining (and similar, in their use of kids) but the Macy’s ad takes way too long to get to the point, which is a nice point, but more like an afterthought. I also think there is a more direct tie between the Toys “R” Us ad and its audience of core customers as well as prospective customers. All positive.

Kevin Graff
Guest
5 years 24 days ago

If these two ads don’t get you excited for Christmas then you’re likely in line to post a viral video that rants against something perceived as anti-Christmas! Both are great and tug on the emotional triggers of Christmas, rather than just being mundane product/price spots.
My vote: A tie!

Jen Johnston
Guest
5 years 23 days ago

Great ads by both retailers. The emotional hook is strong in both, but I love the way Macy’s ties in that feeling that a child experiences when they walk into a department store at Christmas — wide eyed and full of wonder and all the trimmings. Most adults remember that truly magical feeling they had as a kid, and for the moment the stressful part of shopping at Christmas leaves the psyche and is replaced by good feelings tied to Macy’s. Totally connects with the customer base.

On the contrary, most adults can also relate to the feeling of being in a Toys “R” Us at Christmas time. There’s a reason they don’t depict THAT experience in their ad. In fact the only references to the store I saw were the gift wrap and the logo at the end. Didn’t do as great of a job connecting with their customer base in my opinion.

*These opinions are solely mine and may not reflect those of HRG.*

Brian Kelly
Guest
5 years 23 days ago

Retention and/or acquisition? I think it’s more about share of spend and consideration. These long-standing giants probably have 85 percent-plus unaided awareness.

So will “a white little girl’s upper-class Christmas payback for doing something for others not in need” fantasy help shoppers suspend their disbelief and go back to either of these stores at this time of the year?

I’d spend the money on more payroll in the stores to help with the horrible check out experience both these brands feature.

I’ve done these sorts of ads before. They are totally disconnected from the reality of the shopping experience and cannot hope to disrupt the bias held against either of these stores. In an age when transparency and authenticity rule, can these throwback ads alter ingrained impressions?

As even Santa says, “Retail ain’t for sissies!”

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
5 years 23 days ago

I guess I just don’t understand why Macy’s ad was sooo long when it really did not need to be to make its eventual sweet point. Both ads were good, but the visuals in Toys “R” Us seemed more genuine and true, and less contrived somehow — which is why I preferred it, and think it will strike a chord with customers old and young. Parents can use this ad as a teaching tool by watching it with the family and discussing it together before the kids drag them to a Toys “R” Us store.

Mohamed Amer
Guest
Mohamed Amer
5 years 23 days ago

Two entertaining and warm spots. Macy’s longer “Wish Writer” is the more imaginative and magical. It plays on the limitless creativity of childhood in a world of make-believe that still comes true. The tie-in with the store and equating Macy’s with Christmas.

Toys “R” Us also celebrates the holidays but does so with more of the rational left brain in control. It’s more concrete and tangible. Nothing wrong with that, but it could have done more. Also, there was no real tie-in with the store.

Thumbs up, way up, for Macy’s.

Chris Braceland
Guest
Chris Braceland
5 years 23 days ago

Nice job on both ads! They both give a true sense of the magic and wonders of the Christmas season and truly connect with everyone. There is “Christmas” in all of us!

Lee Kent
Guest
5 years 23 days ago

Although the Macy’s ad is by far my favorite, I wish they had emphasized a bit more what Make A Wish is. It is such a powerful organization. My 5 yr old grand nephew is fighting a very rare cancer and was just given a Make a Wish day with the Vermont State Police. You should see the pictures. Now that would have made a great ad. πŸ˜‰

But Macy’s still did the trick, made the point of giving and the magic of Christmas time.

Kenneth Leung
Guest
5 years 23 days ago

Both are good ads. The Macy’s one ties better to their brand for a more magical holiday (very Norman Rockwell) Disney-ish storyline to charity, while Toys “R” Us is more straightforward act-of-kindness to your neighbors. Macy’s is more “traditional story build-up “while Toys “R” Us is more “modern/shorter attention and action.”

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
5 years 23 days ago

Seeing the Macy’s storefront in their commercial reminded me that I was watching a commercial. I didn’t see the connection between the Toys “R” Us commercial and the action on the screen. Macy’s got my vote because of their connection with Make A Wish Foundation.

Todd Hale
Guest
Todd Hale
5 years 23 days ago

While both ads did a great job of connecting emotionally about the joy of giving, I really liked how the Macy’s ad was about the magic of Christmas inside and outside of a retail store. As a kid growing up in the ’50s, I remember those magical days of Christmas displays and special sections of stores devoted to kid shopping for their family and friends. Too much of that magic is lost with digital retailing.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"While both ads highlight the good feeling one gets when thinking about others, I like the Macy’s spot. It fits better with the store’s Make-A-Wish tie-in and with the store itself."
"I like both ads quite a bit and think that the focus on altruism is very effective. After all, your holiday shoppers are generally buying gifts for others, and getting them excited about doing something nice encourages people to shop more to find the "perfect" gift."
"If these two ads don’t get you excited for Christmas then you’re likely in line to post a viral video that rants against something perceived as anti-Christmas!"

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