Bil Browning

Macy's markets marriage

Filed By Bil Browning | May 29, 2008 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: bridal registry, gay marriage, Macy's, marriage equality, same-sex marriage

Not everyone celebrating California's marriage equality ruling are gay lovers dying to tie the knot. Even Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says that the ruling will help to boost the state's economy as gays and lesbians flock to California to get hitched.

First in line to ring up sales is Macy's department store. The gay friendly company ran a full page ad on the back of this morning's front section of the LA Times encouraging couples to register with the store. The ad reads:

Macys-close.jpgFirst comes love.
Then comes marriage.

And now it's a milestone every couple in California can celebrate. Let Macy's Wedding Gift and Registry help you start your new life together. With hundreds of great brands to register for, we'll make sure you're happy with your choices every step of the way.

While my friend, Evan Wolfson, writes me over e-mail, "That Macy's feels comfortable doing this on such a big scale says a lot," I'm sure Mattilda is pulling her hair out. See the complete ad after the jump.


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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 29, 2008 9:49 AM

I have sold to a lot of department stores. I used to do the boring bridal events with prestige china, crystal and silver companies because it was an expectation of the department store. I used to listen to the head bridal registrars make the same jokes about being certain not to flirt with the bride, or make jokes about divorce. Generally these were enjoyable, unless the bride or mother came to the event dressed in their monogram bowling outfit.

Their "inclusiveness" is strictly commercial. Their happiness for us is no more or less than anyone else who swipes a bridal registry choice. It would be interesting, in that Macy's is now truly a national department store, if they were to run ads like this in Indiana, Minnesota or Florida.

I really like the idea that CA is going to have an economical boom because of this decision. It smacks in the face of all of those religious bigots. Money talks and BS walks, and they are so full of it.

Think of all the industries that thrive on marriage. My son and his future wife are budgeting over $10,000, and that's cheap for many weddings. LGBT people with a lot of disposable income will dispose of it in California, since Mass doesn't encourage out-of-staters to go there to get married. They could have reaped the financial benefits if they didn't run so scared of the backlash. I love hearing of things like this Macy story.

Also, I realized that by the time the state votes on the amendment, there should be significant figures out on the increase of income in the wedding industry and other places to show the benefits of having same-sex marriage in the state. Many straight people who would have voted for the amendment may vote against it, especially if they or their relatives benefitted financial by the court decision. People would be less likely to vote on an amendment if it will hurt them financially. LGBT Californians need to talk up the money benefits.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 29, 2008 10:29 AM

Monica, I am not unhappy for department stores, banquet halls, caterers, florists,and wedding planners doing well. That is their business and the last four can now raise prices.

As an example I checked in to an all Gay cruise out of Ft Lauderdale on a ship I had already been on as one of many on a brand new boat. The pricing was double to be on an all Gay cruise. I viewed that as paying a premium to be segregated.

My only point is that as a large commercial company Macy's does not care for Gay people any more than any other customer. We are only a market trend to them, and they won't be running this same ad in states where it could cost them money.

From a marketing communications POV, this is a very strong statement from Macy's. Being a national chain, they have national exposure and it does take a lot of risk to do this ad.

Yes, bottom line is they are looking at their bottom line. They are a corporation and are looking at sales. But it still takes a gutsy management staff to put this out there (so to speak).

To amplify what I am saying, yesterday Dunkin Donuts pulled an ad with Rachael Ray - she was wearing a scarf that Michelle Malkin claimed was "hate couture."

has the story. Olbermann put it over the top last night.

Dunkin Donuts shows how easy it is to wimp out in corporate America when it comes to advertising.

I understand where you are coming from, Robert. This is a new thing and companies will jump on the banwagon to make a buck. It's how a capitalistic society functions. Hell, if we suddendly got friendly visitors from another planet, corporations would quickly come up with ways to market to them as well. We are the newest trend, until something newer comes along.

Think of all the industries that thrive on marriage. My son and his future wife are budgeting over $10,000, and that's cheap for many weddings.
Wow. I know some folks will spend pretty much their life savings, but it never ceases to amaze me. My handfasting cost $600: half was for the cake, a third was for reserving the space in the city park, and the rest went to food, drink, paper plates, plastic cups, and table cloths. Even that (well, just the cake really) felt like a lot.

I've long said that greed can be a great motivator for tolerance.

Admittedly, companies like Macy's are usually doing it because they think it will be profitable rather than because they think it's right, but still, we shouldn't look down our noses at it.

This sort of "normalizing" is exactly the sort of thing the haters ought to be afraid of. In both the Field poll and the other poll last week, youth was one of the biggest predictors of acceptance. (In the Field poll, knowing someone who's gay or lesbian is the highest.) It's no coincidence that the younger one is, the more they've seen gays and lesbians in public and in the media, and that those portrayals have become more and more of "everyday people" over the years. (Note: I'm not saying that LGBT people need to be "virtually normal".)

Canada is reeling in big bucks on gay wedding tourism -- that I know first hand. :-) There are several all-inclusive wedding packages in Toronto; you stay at the bed and breakfast and they do everything - wedding planning, ceremony, marriage license. There are wedding planners that specialize in American gay marriages and taking care of all the little details including ID instructions, getting around the city, etc.

We opted to go the DIY route and get married at city hall; even they cater to you every same-sex couple need, with tons of information on how to get there and exactly what American couples need to do to get hitched.

As soon as we heard the ruling, I noted that California would have a cottage industry on it's hands.

Earlier this year, the Williams Institute at UCLA estimated that Iowa would attract $160 million in marriage tourism over the next three years if the state approved gay marriage. However, that was before the California ruling and it is probably now a lost opportunity.

But after the weddings, folks can still come here for their honeymoon!

Just because their bottom line and our interests happen to coincide here, it doesn't mean that they're allies in any real sense. Hell, the mafia was willing to run gay bars in the 60's when no one else would, but I don't see them as an ally either.

I don't think it is a very good anology comparing Macy with the Mafia, or marriage in 2008 with the existance of gay bars in the 1960s. If you just don't like what Macy is doing, your opinion is much stonger than that anology. You should know that.

I have no problem with what macy's is specifically doing here. I was just pointing out that there are other instances in which an organization with greed for a soul might benefit us to take our money.

But they can sell rings all they want.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 30, 2008 1:19 PM

I guess because I know from inside out how truly heartless department stores are my initial comments were based upon the reality that they view us as a commodity. They are not happy for us, they are not sad about us, we are just a prospective dollar.

Has Macy's put a Gay float in the Thanksgiving parade in NYC? If there is a market, they will do it.

Curtis Morton | May 31, 2008 2:18 AM

At least Macy's is recognizing this great accomplishment, unlike their competitors. I don't just feel like a commodity, I feel recognized. And if they are heartless and just using us as a commodity, then good marketing on their part.

Really, we need to focus on November, when voters are going to have their say on the issue. Lets hope and work to ensure that the voters agree with equality.

Maybe I'll have to take a break from Nordstrom and check out Macy's.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 31, 2008 10:36 AM

Curtis, you are the advertising department's dream consumer. You have made my point, that ad was to get you in their door.

Being intimately familiar with Bloomingdales, Macy's, Carson Pirie Scott, Neiman's and Nordstrom's you will not like the product assortments or quality of Macy's if Nordstrom's is your cup of tea. That having been said, I strongly commend you to patronize your local Gay owned or Gay friendly store, or a deep dish discounter.

Department stores do not offer the service of a specialty store or the value of a discount house.

Curtis Morton | May 31, 2008 4:46 PM

Well, I do love Nordstrom. Macy's looks ok, but isn't on par with Nordstrom.

Is there a website that lists gay owned or gay friendly stores in my area?