Series, which stars Meaghan Martin and “Pretty Little Liars” thesp Tyler Blackburn, is Macy’s first major foray into backing an original entertainment property after co-producing the animated special, “Yes, Virginia,” on CBS in 2009. Macy’s is the sole sponsor of “Wendy,” as part of its involvement with the project.
The retail giant’s previous entertainment efforts have focused on big-tent specials for NBC: the 85-year-old Thanksgiving Day parade and July Fourth Fireworks. It has also done branded tie-ins with “Project Runway” and fashion shows that target women.
But Macy’s wanted to launch “Wendy” to speak more directly to teens and tweens, especially during the back-to-school shopping season.
“We thought working with Alloy would be an interesting way to break into the millennial market,” said Martine Reardon, executive VP of marketing at Macy’s. Alloy is behind “Vampire Diaries,” “Gossip Girl,” “Pretty Little Liars” and other younger-skewing femme fare.
Macy’s sparked to “Wendy” after the project was developed by Alloy as a way to “update classics” and “re-envision the Peter Pan story,” said Josh Bank, Alloy Entertainment’s East Coast president of digital.
The six episode-series revolves around Wendy Darling, a girl who begins to have strange, vivid dreams of a mysterious boy named Pete (Blackburn) who she sets out to find in the real world. After finding him she needs to decide between the boy she loves and Pete from her dreams.
Blackburn recorded an original song for the series that will be accompanied by a musicvideo that bows online Monday, a month before “Wendy” hits the Web Sept. 15., as “a way to get some traction behind the characters” and “tease the property,” Reardon said.
Macy’s will offer the song as a download and video on its My Style Lab site (macys.com/mystylelab), and on the “Wendy” Facebook page that Alloy will oversee, along with the company’s YouTube channel.
While series will feature Macy’s brands like Material Girl and American Rag, the retailer and producers tried not to make the placements too blatant.
“Doing so was antithetical to what we want and what Macy’s wants,” Bank said. “We were very clear in our initial meetings this wasn’t going to be a Macy’s ad. That’s not the business we’re in.”
Macy’s will spend heavily to promote “Wendy” with TV spots that will air on the major broadcasters during primetime and cablers ABC Family, MTV, E!, FX, Vh1 and USA Network.”Wendy” is the third web series Alloy has produced this year, and its eighth overall, since it launched a digital division last year. It has worked with other brand partners including Kmart, L’Oreal and Procter & Gamble, among others.Alloy and Macy’s have bigger plans for “Wendy” moving forward.
A book series is in the works, as is a big screen feature that would follow Wendy into Neverland.
But for now, they the two were happy to launch it online first.
“We know (the Internet) is where the consumer is for the most part,” Reardon said. “With so much more of the millennial customer viewing things on their mobilie devices, it seemed like a great place to put this.”