Thanksgiving and Parades

I’ll admit it – on July 4th, I’m hypercritical of parades. But not today, not when I have a glimpse of Manhattan as it cracks the shell on the holiday season. I love the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and in about 20 minutes from now, I’ll be tuning right to it.

Then I started overthinking things, as I am apt to do, and I realized the impressive media design behind an event like this. De-constructing the tradition created by the department store early in the last century, here is what we have:

  • A manufactured event that becomes a news story on the holiday because the pages are thin
  • A spotlight on the commerce and civic style of the most vibrant city in our country
  • Opportunities for additional stories that range from special interest through business by way of marching bands, American Idol level celebrities, media personalities, and more
  • High-profile sponsorship and advertising real estate (seriously, Macy’s would be to its last dollar and spend it on this promotion)

And, most importantly…

  • Rick-rolling:

They’ve been doing this since 1924 for a reason: it’s ability, as both a media event and business decision, to take the center stage. Macy’s could have bought an ad in the circular-driven Thanksgiving Day edition. Instead, they invested a little more and now are nearly synonymous with the holiday morning itself.

I’ll end with the fact that it’s amazing what a big idea can do and become. There is a little bit of risk in trying to create new traditions – media business models or parades – but the reward is potentially grand.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to enjoy a parade today with my friends, and thinking of my family across the country. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Photo: (cc) Flickr user ananawa

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One Comment on “Thanksgiving and Parades”

  1. Mike Licht says:

    Native New Yorkers often refer to this event as “The Macy’s Day Parade.”


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