How the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Changed Holiday Marketing

On Thursday, over 50 million Americans will watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from the comfort of their homes. With this kind of massive audience, advertisers know this is just as important as the Super Bowl. But how did this yearly tradition get the coverage it has today? Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began as Christmas parade. Floats designed to match the scenes portrayed in the New York City shop windows traveled down the streets . They even borrowed animals from the Central Park zoo to come along for the ride. In 1927, the signature gigantic helium balloons made their entrance and are still around to this day.

The target audience for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is, not surprisingly, children. The goal of their whole campaign is to encourage children to ask their parents to go to Macy’s during the holiday season. It’s the ideal platform for other companies like Disney, Cartoon Network, and even Broadway to debut their new shows and programs.

Another one of the benefits of advertising at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is that Thanksgiving is non-partisan. There’s an overwhelming amount of pride that Americans feel on this specific day. It’s advantageous date of the year plus the happiness Americans feel on that Thursday triggers a consumer need to shop for their loved ones for the holidays in American stores.

The consistent viewership of the parade is an advertiser’s dream. They are able to spend all year preparing for this one day that they know millions will see. It’s pretty exhilarating  when you think about it.

One on hand, the wholesome holiday of Thanksgiving just isn’t the same without the annual parade in NYC. However, on the other hand,, advertisers love taking advantage of the opportunity to reach the largest audience they may encounter all year with persuasive broadcasts.

So, this Thursday when you’re snuggled up in bed with your family and watching the parade, what will you see?


–Olivia Walsh