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Macy?s holiday campaign propagates our favorite little white lie

Macy?s, famous for the depth and scope of its holiday campaigns over the years, is running this year?s with a social media component that addresses the Internet?s most toxic corners.

The campaign, called The Santa Project, is a part of its annual Believe campaign, and is designed to counteract the Internet cynicism that even its youngest customers are exposed to. Through The Santa Project, participating social media users will engage in a worthy distraction from much of the divisiveness that plagues the platform by coming together to keep children?s belief in Santa alive.

"These days, when children want answers, they head to the internet," said Holly Thomas, vice president of media relations, cause marketing and events at Macy's Group. "What we want them to find are stories and messages of hope and generosity, fueling the spirit of the season."

The Santa Project
Macy?s campaign is in response to the effects of a distinctly contemporary quandary: oftentimes children, who now have unqualified access to the Internet, become privy to a difficult truth when searching about Santa online. Macy?s, taking this hard truth as an indicative of Internet cynicism, has set out to provide an alternate narrative through The Santa Project.

Starting this month, social media users can post a photo, message or video with the attached hashtag #SantaProject on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube on why they believe in Santa, filmed on a mobile device held sideways in landscape format. 

The effect is meant to provide an alternative narrative for children, so that when they run a search about Santa they are confronted with heartfelt messages of belief around the country instead of whatever Internet cynicism that Macy?s purports to produce the opposite. 

Macy's released a video to kick off the campaign

A selection of the responses will be featured in a Macy?s television commercial debuting in December. 

The campaign comes on the heels of research undertaken by The Santa Project that claims a belief in Santa is beneficial for the American family. According to a survey, 66 percent of U.S. adults think it is important to believe in Santa, despite 44 percent of U.S. adults thinking that belief is decreasing, versus just 8 percent who think it is increasing.

An additional qualitative study commissioned by Macy?s was conducted with 40 children, ages six-to nine-years-old, to study belief in Santa. Interviews showed that belief in Santa can build family traditions and rituals, and instill ideas of morality and generosity.

Holiday campaign
While all of the research associated with the Santa belief quotient may be neither here nor there, The Santa Project campaign is sure to be another hit in a long line of deeply sentimental holiday campaigns from Macy?s.

In previous years, Macy?s has used the time-honored story of Virginia O?Hanlon and writing letters to Santa, which is held in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. For every letter collected in-store or online, Macy?s will donate $1, up to $1 million, to Make-A-Wish.

Do it for the children

In keeping with the altruism of the holiday season, Aflac is teaming up with Macy?s for a holiday charity campaign that makes use of social media and branded mobile messaging services to raise awareness for childhood cancer (see story). 

The campaigns come at either a tumultuous time or a sea change for Macy?s, depending on whom you ask. The department store?s plans to close 100 bricks-and-mortar locations is indicative of a desire to balance its digital and physical presence, but this is just one of the big risks being taken by retailers desperate to gain an upper hand in omnichannel (see story).

"Macy?s is home to the one-and-only Santa, and he annually ushers in the official start of holiday season as part of Macy?s Thanksgiving Day Parade," Ms. Thomas said. "The mission of The Santa Project is to fill the internet with the spirit of belief to keep the magic of Santa alive for future generations."