Macy’s floats some Main Character Energy – and teaches an important marketing lesson

Published: March 16, 2023

min read

Main Character Energy is a huge trend right now among Millennials and Gen Z. If your TG includes these two demographic groups, then you should know what it is and include it in your marketing strategy.

The latest brand to tap into Main Character Energy is Macy’s. Macy’s is a high-end premium retail chain, as we all know, whose clientele consists primarily of older adults. With a multi-channel presence (website, stores and mobile app), they have a range of products that include apparel for men, women and children, home furnishings, cosmetics, jewelry, fragrances, shoes, etc.

Their customers are the slightly older demographic – mainly more affluent women, working full-time, with a disposable income that they spend on clothes, household goods and other stuff.

In a bid to widen their audience base, and include the younger millennials and Gen Z, Macy’s is tapping into what is primarily a TikTok concept, Main Character Energy, as a top-of-the-funnel activity.

Now Main Character Energy, a very common phrase in internet slang and social media refers to the whole idea of doing things that make you happy. It is about investing in oneself and advocating for oneself, confidence, a romanticized picture of life and self-love.

For its latest campaign, Macy’s has teamed up with Sarah Bahbah—a photographer and director, very popular on Instagram, particularly for her unique, dreamy creative direction—and the New York agency, BBDO.

A part of the strategy is to bring this energy – the Main Character Energy – from social media to a TV commercial, which is a 30-second spot featuring various women whose Main Character Energy changes the ordinary and mundane, every day happenings into gloriously whimsical and brightly-colored scenes.

The other part of the strategy is to launch a TikTok event, where customers and Macy’s own “Style Crew” brand ambassadors can show off their distinct Main Character Energy Moments to the accompaniment of audio tracks created by BBDO New York.

What brands can take away from this campaign

Your marketing goal must define the how and the what – before setting off to craft a campaign, it is imperative for brands to be clear about what they set out to achieve. Macy’s goal was to attract a younger TG – which defined everything else about the campaign.

The TikTok Main Character Energy – and how to convert that into a campaign that Gen Z and the millennials will sit up and take notice. So they make a typical top of the funnel campaign that introduces the brand to an audience in a manner that they would connect with.

The goal behind the strategy was to introduce the brand to this new audience base – so that defines the how and the what. How do you do that? You find a way to do it in a matter that the audience can relate to. In this case, it was Main Character Energy.

And what do you do? You do what gets the audience excited. And so apart from a spot which has all the Main Character Energy, you take it a step further and invite customers to create some Main Character Energy of their own. And post it on social media. Something Gen Z enjoys doing.

Thus far, Macy’s target audience was primarily affluent older women. Now with the goal to expand their customer base to include the younger generation, a change in strategy and implementation of that strategy was required – and that is what they did! They made the switch from just print ads that the older women liked, to a whole different dreamy whimsy.

And now audiences everywhere can look forward to customers and Macy’s brand ambassadors re-creating some Main Character Energy on Social Media.

Changing one’s strategy in keeping with the changing times and audiences, is imperative for brands to remain relevant and successful.


Bill Walker

Bill is a marketing strategist who believes in the power of storytelling. He's known for his creativity, wit, and ability to connect with audiences across all channels. When he's not crafting marketing campaigns, you can find him hiking in the mountains or reading a good book.


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