Macy’s has a new holiday mascot, Tiptoe

We talked to Heather Taylor, senior editor of PopIcon, a site dedicated to brand mascots, about what might be next for the blue reindeer.
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· 4 min read

Move over Rudolph—there’s a new reindeer in town. And, just like the red-nosed reindeer, this one was also created by a department store.

ICYMI, Macy’s rolled out a new holiday brand mascot of sorts last month—a blue reindeer named Tiptoe—complete with a few ads telling her story and a giant Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. There have been “mixed reactions” to Tiptoe online, according to Heather Taylor, senior editor at PopIcon, a website run by Advertising Week all about brand mascots. But Tiptoe fans are hopeful that, like Rudolph, this reindeer is here to stay.

It’s arguably too soon for a new reindeer to overshadow Rudolph just yet—he was created in 1939, after all. So Tiptoe has some big shoes to fill. But according to Taylor, if Macy’s plays its cards right and makes a few strategic moves, she could become a bigger part of the brand’s holiday-season messaging for years to come.

Tiptoe, a history

Here’s Tiptoe’s basic premise: Blue reindeer meets the North Pole at Christmas time. Blue reindeer can’t fly because she is too shy (been there, girl). Her friends—Polar Bear and Penguin, obviously—get help from some elves who invent a flying machine (read: balloon wings) for Tiptoe. She successfully flies Santa’s sleigh…until her balloon wings pop. But, like the Girlboss™ she is, she realizes she doesn’t need the balloon wings at all. She just needs to believe in herself to fly 🥺.

A 90-second spot rolled out in early November in cinemas and online, telling Tiptoe’s story with the help of agency BBDO, and shorter spots followed on TV, per Ad Age. But the videos make no mention of Tiptoe’s parade appearance.

Taylor thinks that may have been a mistake on Macy’s part. “I would have started with a teaser spot,” she told Marketing Brew. That way, Macy’s could have built more anticipation for Tiptoe’s holiday crusade.

Why now?

Although 2021 might seem like an odd time for a retailer to roll out a new brand mascot (with declining in-store foot traffic leading to fewer opportunities to meet these characters IRL), Taylor told us the pandemic’s impact may have actually created product-market fit for a character like Tiptoe.

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“We’ve gone through a very difficult couple of years. The biggest message in this campaign is really believing in yourself, and that you are capable of great things,” she said. Taylor added that Tiptoe’s story is a way for Macy’s—with its “Believe” slogan intact long before Tiptoe—to tell everyone to look back at what they’ve survived in the past few years and be proud of themselves for personal wins.

On Dasher, on Dancer, on…Tiptoe?

“I feel like there's more to come from Tiptoe, for sure,” Taylor told us. She suggested a few ways the retailer could move the reindeer’s brand forward over the rest of the holiday season, such as debuting a Tiptoe product line.

“I’ve already seen comments online asking, ‘Are there plush toys sold of her?’” Taylor said. She told us those toys, as well as Tiptoe pajamas and slippers, could be a good jumping off point for the character’s brand. Macy’s has created 1,000 Tiptoe stuffed animals for charities, per Little Black Book, but it’s unclear if they’ll be sold more widely. Taylor added that Macy’s could even roll out a Tiptoe holiday special and picture book.

Taylor told us Macy’s is “definitely trying to tap into a younger demographic,” with the character, which is partly why she thinks it was created in the first place.

Although she said she can’t be certain about what’s next for Miss Tiptoe, she told us her best guess is that the reindeer returns in 2022. Specifically, Taylor said she thinks Tiptoe will come back with an expanded universe, perhaps helping one of her friends out with a problem the next time around so Macy’s can add to its pool of characters.

What does Macy’s have to say about Tiptoe’s crystal-ball forecast? “At this time, it is too early to tell what the future holds for Tiptoe,” Macy’s external comms director, Orlando Veras, told Marketing Brew. However, he added that Macy’s has seen “numerous requests” for longform Tiptoe and friends content.

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