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The Make-A-Wish foundation is one of the world’s best known charities, which aims at granting wishes to seriously ill children. In 2007, Macy’s partnered with the charity in their ‘Believe’ campaign, donating $1 per letter or email to Santa that was sent to Macy’s.

The Campaign has been highly successful, raising upward of $10.8 million to date.

Macy’s has since innovated with additional features, such as a stylus and app which teaches children about being generous and kind, and from which $1 per purchase is donated.

An original musical, Yes, Virginia has further been produced which tells the story that inspired the campaign – a true story of a young girl who wrote to the New York Sun in 1897 to ask if Santa was real.

The play was made available royalty-free in 2015, on top of which a number of eligible schools received $1,000 towards staging a production. Toolkits can also be downloaded for free by schools to enable the staging of productions.

And, for children who post their letter to Santa at a ‘Believe station,’ they can take pictures with characters from the play through an augmented reality app.

Much like the Coca-Cola's polar bear donations or Pampers’ silent night campaign, Macy’s is attempting to draw in consumers through its philanthropic programs. Children are drawn to the store to engage with the campaign and send their letters to Santa; meanwhile, parents are not only brought to the store by their children, but may be subsequently inclined to spend there in support of the charitable campaign.

The campaign therefore not only operates on an emotional level, but encourages direct engagement from consumers, be it through writing letters, seeing the musical, visiting the store or purchasing the stylus and app. Meanwhile, the growing popularity of Yes, Virginia helps keep the campaign memorable outside of the holiday period when it runs.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Team up with charities and NGOs to make positive change in the world and broaden your customer base. Campaigns that strike a positive chord with customers can be further expanded to new mediums that take on a life of their own.

Table of Contents

Intro150 Years of the Best Holiday Campaigns
Chapter 1 The Genesis of Holiday Window Displays
Chapter 2 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Brings Spectacle to the Season
Chapter 3 How Coca-Cola Invented The Father of Christmas (Or did they?)
Chapter 4 Budweiser Celebrates the End to Prohibition
Chapter 5 Montgomery Ward Employee Invents Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Chapter 6 Campbell’s Soup Speaks to the ’50s Housewife
Chapter 7 Mr. Potato Head Becomes First Toy Ever Televised
Chapter 8 NORAD Tracks Santa’s Journey Around the World
Chapter 9 Norelco Popularizes Stop-Motion Animation
Chapter 10 Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas? Why You’ll Eat KFC in Japan
Chapter 11 Folgers Advertises the Intangible
Chapter 12 Hershey’s Holiday Bells Defy an Ad Agency
Chapter 13 Coca-Cola’s Polar Bears Humanize Global Warming
Chapter 14 Coca-Cola’s Christmas Fleet Brings Truckloads of Cheer
Chapter 15 M&M’s Stumble Upon Santa –– No One is Left Standing
Chapter 16 Starbucks Red Cups Spark Consumer Salivating (and Controversy)
Chapter 17 Target Keeps it Simple with Their Black Friday Catalog Focuses on Price
Chapter 18 Pampers Silent Night Raises $40 Million for Charity
Chapter 19 Give a Garmin Hits on Travel, Humor and Holiday Stress
Chapter 20 John Lewis Focuses on Storytelling Over Brand
Chapter 21 Macy’s Believe Campaign Raises $10 Million, Involves Schools
Chapter 22 American Express Small Business Saturday Supports Local
Chapter 23 Apple Misunderstood Campaign Makes Technology and Family a Priority
Chapter 24 REI’s #OptOutside Campaign Bucks Tradition