Macy’s Anne McDonald

Avid Shotgun Marketing Blog reader, Mark, forwarded me this Ad Age article and video link to an interview with new Macy’s CMO Anne McDonald and wondered what my thoughts are…

First off, just in general, I think Federated Department Stores applying the Macy’s name across all their stores is a double edged sword. On one hand, I admire the efficiency of it…One creative message with the ability to use national media. They’ll be able to make the marketing dollars go alot farther. On the other hand, they’ve “killed” some powerful long standing local brands…the king of those being Marshall Fields. It will be a long time before some of those local consumers “forgive” them for taking away a familiar brand…and it will take a long time for those same consumers to accept the Macy’s branding. Remember, brands are built from the bottom-up…not top-down. Overall, it will take them a long time to recover from their “efficiency”.

As to the interview with Anne… I’m very impressed with her. She seems to have a firm grasp of some of the “big ideas” of good marketing.
1) I love the fact that she is proud that she “has no experience” with retail marketing. Being able to apply new ideas from other industries and not being stuck in the rut of the “way we’ve always done it” is a HUGE advantage in marketing.

2) She’s one of the few marketing people who seems to understand the relationship between business and marketing. She makes the point that I make ALL the time that marketing is usually the 2nd biggest expense after HR. The marketing dept must make itself relevant to the bottom line…..”If you don’t understand how the company makes money…then you are an expense.” She also makes a good point of making sure you partner with the CFO so they can see how marketing contributes to revenue.

3) And it’s not just financials…She makes a good point about not falling in love with the creative aspects when trying to pitch marketing to the rest of the company and to just deal with the fact because the appeal of the creative will always be subjective. I’ve seen many great marketing “plans” die because a few of the biggies didn’t like”an ad“. She says always discuss the facts, the business, and the results…and then people won’t be discussing the ads.