For each Thanksgiving as far back as I can remember, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been the staple of my morning. Along with it came cinnamon sugar bread being cooked in my oven, my siblings and I dressed in our coziest pajamas, and the clinking of orange juice in the fancy cups that were only allowed to be used on special occasions. Together we would circle around our television, fighting over which station the parade was actually on, despite watching it every year. This routine is shared by millions of Americans every year; In 2021, NBC topped 25 million viewers on television, along with millions of viewers in person as well.
What is needed for the parade?
Although my watching has been consistent, I have never known all of the work that goes into the parade. Macy’s creative producer, Wesley Whatley, gave Playbill a glimpse into the works of the big day. He operates on an 18-month schedule in between parades, and throughout that time, he has to design balloons and floats and decide on 11 marching bands, 10 performance groups of 600 cheerleaders and dancers, 1,000 clowns, 22 stilt walkers, four broadway musicals, and all else that goes on.
How are brands included?
What’s exciting to see every year are the consistent balloons that are near and dear to our hearts and the new ones that, with time, will join that list. First-time balloons cost at least $190,000, which covers admittance into the parade and the cost of balloon construction. Iconic characters in the parade include Charlie Brown for Peanuts, Mickey Mouse for The Walt Disney Company, Ronald Mcdonald for McDonald’s, and many more beloved balloons.
How does involvement promote brands?
One might ask themselves, does being involved with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade really help a brand that much? The answer is yes. Many brands report having a surplus in sales as a result of their involvement. For example, in 2005, Disney had its first balloon for its property Disney Channel and saw a lift in sales for the property’s toys based off of the announcement alone. That year they premiered a balloon of Jojo, the star of the animated Disney series “Jojo’s Circus.” The senior VP for brand marketing at Disney ABC Cable Networks group said, “We were able to get two JoJo toys in Toys ‘R’ Us’s Toybook [its holiday catalog] because of the parade, and we’ve already seen a 200% increase in sales since the book came out. Sales should go through the roof after the parade.”
Although it’s exciting to see the decked-out floats and the elaborate musical performances, for my siblings and me, the most powerful thing about this parade is the nostalgia it has filled us with each time we have watched it. This nostalgia is extremely influential and is the backbone behind the success of the parade and the key message that everyone who participates in the parade possesses.
Carley Kurtz, Account Associate