Macy's Fights Amazon Billboard Atop its Iconic New York Store
Saying it would cause "immeasurable" harm to its business, Macy's filed a lawsuit asking a court to prevent a real estate company from allowing Amazon.com to advertise on a billboard connected to the department store's Herald Square location in New York City. The lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court on Friday, said the contract Macy's signed with the real estate company, Kaufman Organization, to advertise on the billboard — set atop a five-story building located next to the iconic 34th Street Macy's department store — expired in August. Since 1963, the advertiser had been prohibited from allowing a Macy's competitor to advertise on the 2,220-square-foot billboard.
"To the naked eye, the billboard is on Macy's department store and in its own right iconic," lawyers for Macy's wrote in the complaint.
As the expiration date on the contract between the billboard owner and Macy's crept closer, the billboard owner said it was in discussions with a very "prominent online retailer" — Amazon, according to Macy's lawyers — concerning the advertising on the billboard.. At the end of August, the deal allowing Macy's to advertise there ended, and Macy's took its ad off the billboard.
Total Retail's Take: The red shopping-bag-shaped billboard connected to Macy's is nearly synonymous with the retailer's famous brick-and-mortar Herald Square location, despite the fact that the billboard isn't connected to the department store. It makes the store easily identifiable from anywhere in the world and is seen by millions who watch the annual Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade. Having a powerhouse competitor advertise in that spot won't be good for Macy's, especially for the Herald Square store that once relied so heavily on tourist traffic.
And while the e-commerce giant Amazon was already a threat to traditional retailers like Macy's, the recent news that Amazon is planning to open its own version of large department stores could put more pressure on an already struggling segment of the retail industry.