The Reality (Show) of Macy’s Business

Discussion
Jul 20, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Macy’s is about to become the first retailer profiled on a reality television program. Let’s hope for Macy’s and its employees that it comes across better than some of the other “stars” of reality television shows.

The show, “Unwrapping Macy’s,” will begin airing on September 30 on WE, the Women’s Entertainment network. According to Steven Weinstock, one of the show’s producers, the eight 30-minute episodes planned will focus on what goes on behind-the-scenes at Macy’s in terms of store operations, merchandise decisions and managing events such as the company’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade.

Ron Klein, chairman of Macy’s Eastern division, told The New York Times, the show will not follow the standard reality TV plot. “Most reality TV is a negative experience, waiting for someone to fail,” he said.

Macy’s show will focus instead on the daily lives of the company’s employees and their ability to successfully navigate the pressures and “inherently dramatic” world of retailing, according to Mr. Weinstock.

The airing comes at good time for the department store as it will be in the early stages of having replaced all of the former May Department Store banners to Macy’s locations.

Discussion Question: What do you see as the pros and cons of “Unwrapping Macy’s” for the department store’s business?

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9 Comments on "The Reality (Show) of Macy’s Business"


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Robert Craycraft
Guest
Robert Craycraft
14 years 7 months ago

This is a brilliant idea and may help soften some of the bad karma in the Chicago market with the Marshall Field’s massacre. What great watching! Customers, and potential customers, can’t help but be impressed with the logistics behind operating one of these monoliths. I worked at a downtown flagship that was closed and it was incredible the difference it made in just 48 hours of not having the daily housekeeping and rebuilding we had taken for granted. In a week it was a wreck and the escalators were not even operating properly.

Kelly Hudak
Guest
Kelly Hudak
14 years 7 months ago

This should be very interesting, considering I am a former Macy’s employee. The success of the show, and for Macy’s, is dependant on the employees they choose to represent them, which may not truly be “reality TV.”

Robert Mayberry
Guest
Robert Mayberry
14 years 7 months ago

I’m going against the grain, here. Couple of reasons –

1. Other retailers have tried and failed at reality programs. Lowe’s put together “House Rules” on TBS with poor results in 2003. The show was killed after 1 season.

2. The Macy’s show is on WE. Yes, it’s an attempt to re-engage the female consumer, but the channel’s viewership is so low, it’s not likely to have any impact.

3. The programming will most likely be heavily edited to make Macy’s look good. Today’s consumer will have none of it. Check out consumer sentiment to Wal-Mart’s recent stab at user-generated, “reality” online content in a hip-attempt to become more relevant to the teen audience.

I think Macy’s is missing the boat on the corporate marketing front. Reality programming, especially that of the corporate-generated ilk, jumped the shark two years ago. How about some down and dirty, differentiated brand building that highlights the company’s full-service value proposition? Novel concept.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

What a lot of optimists you are. Or maybe reality shows in the US have a more genuine and evenhanded approach than they do in the UK. Here, it is an enormous risk to do anything in front of a camera when you know that an editor is going to do his or her best to get the viewing figures up by making the program as entertaining as possible. This sometimes skews what is really real. And as far as I recall, the program here about Grace Brothers, Are You Being Served?, was slapstick comedy and didn’t even pretend to be based on reality.

Paul Waldron
Guest
Paul Waldron
14 years 7 months ago

If we are to believe the newspaper, the only jobs we are creating are in retail or restaurant service. Would there be enough of a market for people to watch a program that reflects what they are doing all day?

Seriously, I hope it is as successful and funny as the one that the British did several years ago about Grace Brothers, called “Are you being served?.”

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

Show business has its own reality, so “Unwrapping Macy’s” can be whatever they want it to be. Undoubtedly it will help the brand and make recruitment easier. It’s a great publicity move for Macy’s, and the network might gain advertisers whose merchandise is carried by Macy’s.

Steven Davidson
Guest
Steven Davidson
14 years 7 months ago

I am looking forward to this! As a fanatic of “Project Runway” (hence…utilize the Macy’s accessory wall), this will be interesting to look inside behind the scenes of what it takes to run a department store…especially on this scale. Unless you have worked in a department store, you don’t know what really goes on behind the scenes. It can be business as usual at times, and at others it can have both business and personal impacts.

The timing couldn’t be better either. Living in Michigan, I am counting down the days until our Marshall Field’s stores will be converting to Macy’s. In the market that I live in, people are still recovering from the Hudson’s name change. This will give them some type of perspective of the store they wouldn’t normally have as a customer, and possibly gain a newfound respect for a new retailer coming into their town.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

The similar reality show for restaurants did showcase the kind of pressure involved in managing a restaurant but did not create a picture that made the job attractive to many people. Hopefully Macy’s show can generate more excitement for retail positions.

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 7 months ago

Macy’s has hit a potential “gold” mine in creating such a show.

What a great P.R. vehicle! But more important, this show is a hiring and marketing method to entice consumers to interview with Macy’s AND of course, Shop at Macy’s! Brilliant.

But, are there other “outside-the-box” marketing retailers ready to take such a creative, bold, and more than likely, effective move?

Maybe Nordstrom, Ukrop’s, Starbucks, Borders, Neiman Marcus and Target. Would it be a plus for Wal-Mart or other Grocers to create? Only if the latter has a presentation of a positive work environment, and a culture of shopper engagement. Macy’s… Brilliant! Hmmmmmm

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