Client – Macy’s

Markets – USA

Timing – 2015 Holiday Season

Agencies/Vendors – J. Walter Thompson New York, MediaMonks

Keywords – stylus, app, gamification, social media, animations, stylus

For the 2015 holiday season, Macy’s brought back its signature “Believe” campaign, but with a new and innovative twist.


Over the past seven years, Macy’s Believe campaign has become part of Christmas culture in America by highlighting the joy of the season. “Believe” is fundamentally built around the spirit of generosity – the belief in the best of each other and ourselves. The campaign has remained relevant because they have reinvented the platform and added new creative elements with each passing year. This year, Macy’s needed to reinvent again and create new assets to substantially refresh the Believe campaign platform and give it renewed meaning.


In November 2015, Macy’s launched the eighth annual “Believe” campaign with a new film and an element aimed at children and adults alike – the Macy’s Wish Writer stylus and app. As the digital component of the campaign, the Santa letter-writing app invited Macy’s customers to write their own magical letters to Santa and play 12 mini-games and activities that taught children the importance of kindness and generosity in a fun way. For each letter sent to Santa, $1 was donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation as part of Macy’s goal to raise $1 million. In addition, Macy’s made a $1 donation for every purchase of the full version Wish Writer app.


Due to the large number of original animations in the app, Macy’s created a custom pipeline that enabled a large team of illustrators and animators to seamlessly integrate characters (designed in Flash) and scenes (built in After Effects) into Unity. This custom approach enabled the speed of a Flash production pipeline to be utilized within a Unity build without sacrificing quality. By using shaders in a 3D canvas, they created the “magic inks” for use in a 2D canvas. The way the project was set up made the work agile, so they were able to continuously improve the illustrations and the animations.


Lead creative agency, J. Walter Thompson, and its app development partner, MediaMonks, collaborated with a child psychologist and expert in play therapy and gaming to work on the project. With the goals of keeping kids entertained throughout the holiday season and inspiring them to pass along the holiday spirit, the team combined different techniques to achieve the best magical experience for kids when it comes to Christmas and sending a special letter to Santa. Bearing in mind that a lot of kids play on the hand-me-down devices of their parents, they had the unique challenge of targeting older devices, making sure canvas real estate and performance was optimal.


Since the film launched in November, the film has reached 8,767, 478 + views to date.