The brands behind the Macy's thanksgiving day parade

February 27, 2018


It’s Thanksgiving and that can only mean one thing! No, not Turkey, the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade! Dating back to 1924, the parade was originally created as a means to celebrate the expansion of Macy’s stores to Manhattan. In its inaugural year, the parade included live animals and floats, which were pulled by horses. Fast forward just over 90 years, the live animals have been replaced with the infamous balloons, there’s a team of over 10,000 ‘float handlers’ and the parade has become, a family tradition for many Americans. So how does Macy’s put on such a great show every year?

With everyone from McDonald’s to Twentieth Century Fox, getting in on the action, it’s safe to say there’s some serious cash floating around. However, Macy’s are notoriously tight-lipped. We couldn’t even crack, our newest team member Gena Casciano, who previously was Macy’s Director of National Event Marketing. The now famous line is ‘the parade is a gift to the city of New York’ is all over the media.

However, with such a large platform, we think it's safe to say the brands are getting a good return on their investment. The attendance at the parade is set to reach a staggering 3.5 million with another 25 million people, tuning in to watch it on TV. To put this into perspective, this is almost as many people as major sporting events. Based on this, it probably comes as no surprise that Macy’s is actually the second largest consumer of helium, with the US government taking the top spot.

Back in 2013, Tony Michaels, CEO of the Parade Company (a nonprofit group that operates the Thanksgiving Day parade in Detroit) famously gave an interview with Time magazine and stated that a float can cost anywhere between $30,000 to $100,000 to build. This is just the build costs, there’s also the transport and the other sponsorship costs to consider. Other estimates have said that once the floats are built, shipped and the parade fees are paid, the brand’s total costs could stack up to $190,000.

Estimates of the total costs for the Macy’s parade have ranged from $11.6 million to $13.4 million and with the pressure to make the parade better and better, year on year, we can only expect these estimates to increase.

Event advertising is an increasingly effective way for brands to cut through the noise and reach their target audience. Obviously, events such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, put event advertising in a whole other universe, but the benefits to brands are undeniable.

If you’re interested in how event advertising could benefit your brand, get in touch at

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