If you’ve ever been to New York City’s Herald Square, you’ve probably seen or taken a picture by the giant Macy’s Bag on the corner of the original Macy’s store. It’s an area that is known for attracting many tourists and a large audience in general. The Macy’s billboard bag has never featured anything other than the Macy’s logo. That has changed with a new collaboration with DreamWorks Animation.
Throughout the month of October, the Herald Square Macy’s bag will feature the new movie DreamWorks’ Trolls, which debuts on November 4th. This is the first time Macy’s has supported an entertainment studio or promoted a theatrical film in such a massive way.
The Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing was able to hear all about Macy’s partnership with DreamWorks Animation through former RCSC student, Bryce Ortega. Bryce Ortega graduated from our program and has worked his way up in the DreamWorks Licensing department.
From an early age, Bryce Ortega participated in sports and when attending the University of Arizona that didn’t change. Bryce started at shortstop and 2nd base on the Wildcat’s baseball team from freshman through senior year. Finding himself with opportunities after athletics, he took a swing at the entertainment industry and landed on a new passion. Since then Bryce has worked in three different capacities at DreamWorks Animation. He started out in international licensing where he managed agent relationships across markets such as Canada, Latin America and Australia. After mastering these territories, he was promoted into global new business development engaging with companies that have a worldwide scale. Partnering with companies that reach across the globe allows DreamWorks Animation to market and reach a larger audience across multiple regions. In Bryce’s current role as Hardlines’ Licensing Manager, he is now focused on partnerships within the United States across the categories of food, health, beauty, stationery and Party.
Bryce was enthusiastic explaining his intriguing role. He manages the entire licensee relationship which includes initial outreach, financial negotiation, contract signature and product development. His main goal is to ensure that all matters run smoothly. Ortega said some of his other duties include approving website artwork, digital ad banners, press releases and assisting throughout the product development cycle. To put artwork approval in perspective, Bryce stated “We have a product development team that helps ensure all of our characters are being featured in the right way when being applied to various product categories. As an example, we want to make sure Shrek’s green skin tone is the appropriate PMS color…” Bryce’s role is to ensure that the company is being represented in the correct way and he does this while working across multiple teams
DreamWorks Animation has formed a new and unique partnership with Macy’s Inc. to help promote their new movie DreamWorks’ Trolls. Bryce has a very big role in this partnership, as his team has been working on Troll’s merchandise for over a year now. He said, in speaking about this collaboration, that “Macy’s is a special relationship. We have signed exclusive licensees to ensure their product offering is elevated and differentiated from all other retail customers.” He then went on to explain how retailers evaluate upcoming movies because they know, if they catch the right film at the right time, they’ll have opportunities to draft off of all the marketing efforts and box office viewership tied to the release. Bryce compared this theory to going to Disneyland. When you’re on a rollercoaster, there’s a sense of exhilaration seeing all of the characters come to life and that thrill stays with you when exiting the ride. Typically, you’ll then find yourself walking through a gift shop where you can buy merchandise relating to the ride or a picture of you on the roller coaster. Retailers know that when audiences walk out of a movie, if the story and characters are compelling, they’re going to want to buy toys or clothes related to a certain element from the film. In the end, both sides win. Retailers receive incremental lift when partnering with a film and the studio receives additional support from a key customer. “It’s a beautiful marriage” said Bryce.
Partnering with a retailer such as Macy’s is a big step for DreamWorks Animation. Bryce works with other retailers such as Target, Walmart and Toys R Us, but these retailers’ consumers are very different compared to a Macy’s customer. Bryce and his team knew working with Macy’s would be a challenge. They did not sit down with Macy’s and try to initially sell them on the movie, Trolls. Instead they approached them in a very tactical way, with specific questions in mind to see how they could help them where their business had challenges. They discovered that Macy’s slowest month is in October. If you’ve noticed a Target or Walmart during the month of October, it is very different than the look of Macy’s in October. Macy’s has never been a destination for Halloween costumes or other related items but through their partnership with DreamWorks Animation the company will be taking on a new approach by promoting the movie, Trolls. Bryce explained how Macy’s doesn’t normally support movies and said, “This may be the biggest support that they’ve ever provided a new movie.” As a result, Macy’s has been an important project and Bryce and his team have created very unique merchandise that will speak to the Macy’s customer. They did so by working directly with Macy’s preferred suppliers which allowed Macy’s to roll out Trolls merchandise in various departments, such as Juniors, Accessories and Apparel.
The Herald Square Macy’s bag is not the only bag that will be changing, Macy’s has agreed to wrap all of their shopping bags with characters from Trolls. Listening to Bryce talk about his work, you can see how he applies retail strategies. He explained to me that even if a customer doesn’t buy Trolls merchandise, every purchaser will walk out with a DreamWorks’ Trolls branded Macy’s shopping bag. His strategy runs so deep that he even threw in the idea that people often save their bags
and reuse them for gifts or other purposes which will only lead to even more exposure to the movie.
Since Bryce graduated from the University of Arizona he has seen great success. Being a college student myself, I couldn’t help but ask for advice about starting a career and finding your passion. Bryce shared that networking is one of the most important things you can do, not only in a professional way, but on a more personal level. Bryce explains that it’s fine to be yourself and create relationships with people because it will only help with your future success. Bryce’s final piece of advice was, “What I would encourage RCSC students to do is to not be closed off to other job opportunities, outside of being a buyer or store manager. Being a buyer is great, but certainly not the only job that enables you to use your education as a retail major. Understanding the retail landscape and consumer buying behavior can help shape your career into so many unique opportunities you may not even know existed. Kind of like me.”