The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: What’s Up With That?

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is just one of those things that’s such an ingrained part of our culture that we don’t stop to question it. Thanksgiving occurs. So does the parade. It’s just what has to happen.

But this wasn’t always the case. The whole thing began in 1924 to kickstart the holiday season, and it barely merited two sentences in the New York Herald the following day. Since then it’s blossomed into the full-fledged juggernaut of marketing that we all know and love.

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It’s also an event marketer’s dream come true. From custom mobile fabrications like Santa’s sleigh to all manner of audience engagement techniques, the Macy’s parade offers up a veritable plethora of opportunities for brands. For example, Cotton Inc. does a Bountiful Harvest cornucopia float filled with fruits. Timberland provides warm and comfy outerwear to any volunteers doing parade-related work. And then there are the balloons, like Snoopy and the Pillsbury Doughboy. Maybe you’ve heard of ’em.

So the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Kind of a big deal. It’s a seasonal staple. It’s how we know the holidays are upon us. It forges positive associations in our brains and allows us to feel like we’re a part of something, whether we’re Tweeting along, watching the parade on TV, or actually attending it the old-fashioned way. In doing so, we get to experience every float, every marching band performance, every runaway Energizer Bunny balloon fiasco.

And that right there is why the parade isn’t just a juggernaut of marketing—it’s a juggernaut of experiential marketing, which is why we’re so geeked about it. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we kind of specialize in that.

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