After 23 years of being in business, Funko is finally arriving at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The toy company is best known for creating collectible figurines relating to pop culture. Their float to commemorate the debut is none other than Grogu, otherwise known as Baby Yoda.
Funko's entering of the parade comes with partnerships established with Star Wars developer Lucasfilm. The alliance has been going on for 13 years. While the corporation is looking forward to the holiday season advertising and 2022 plans, the three way partnership between themselves, the movie studio, and the department store uses a balance. Said balance is the ability to keep Funko's edgy, fan-base with limited edition toys, while also reaching out to a wider consumer base.
In an interview with Adweek, Funko CEO Brian Mariotti explained, "It was just a no brainer. When Macy's approached us, we told Lucasfilm, 'Hey, we thought of you first, this is a huge honor for us as a company. We'd love to partner with you, Lucasfilm, on representing one of your most iconic characters in the parade.' They were excited-and we were over the moon."
One of the Baby Yoda figures from Funko is 3.25 inches tall. Admittedly, going from that small size to a 37-feet-wide, 29-feet-long, and 41-feet high balloon is not easy. David Bere, Funko's senior director of marketing talked about the complication when he said, "The main challenge the team faced was keeping the character's integrity while still making sure the balloon will fly. Funko, Macy's and Lucasfilm have world-class creative teams. So this challenge was met with great creativity and collaboration. There were many times throughout the process where I had to pinch myself. 'Are we really doing this? It's so cool!'"
Another potential difficulty is the pandemic. After the televised only special last year, the 95th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is coming back with all of its parade floats. The audience will be lining up the 2.5 mile route to the Herald Square Flagship. Bere discussed, "Fans are the DNA of our brand, and in-person events are a key part of how we engage with our fan community. Since the start of the pandemic, we've had to find new ways to engage with them."
An example of how the toy brand was able to engage with fans was through its in-house content studio, called the Fun Entertainment Network. The studio created livestreams of events to make up for the lack of in-person meeting. Bere described, "Not everyone can travel to in-person events and, through virtual opportunities, we have created inclusive experiences that all fans can enjoy from wherever they are. We are looking forward to in-person events with our fans when it is safe to do so."
Jordan Dabby, the senior director of partnership marketing for Funko, said, "Funko has their finger on the pulse of pop culture. Through the Macy's Parade, we strive to bring the country a mix of classic elements viewers know and love, combined with an exciting offering of new and cutting-edge elements and entertainment. We are thrilled to introduce Grogu, a beloved character that transcends age, culture and is universally adored, to our lineup this year."
"This collaboration brings a timely pop culture icon to the line of march and will delight devoted Star Wars and Funko fans as well as the Parade audience of all ages."
Paul Southern, svp, franchise and licensing, Lucasfilm and National Geographic, for Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing, explained, "Star Wars fans have come to look forward to Funko's adaptation of their favorite Star Wars characters in pop products,[Funko accessories manufacturing subsidiary] loungefly offerings and more. The Grogu-inspired balloon in the Macy's Day Parade takes that unique Funko adaptation to quite literally new heights-and we are all so excited to see it this November."
The partnership comes with a recent high point for Funko. The Everrett, Washington based entity had net revenue gains of 141% year over year. The company made about $236.1 million. Mariotti discussed, "The partnership with Macy's and Lucasfilm is a validation that we're doing a lot of things right. We always felt like we were synonymous with pop culture. There are tons of wonderful companies that do iconic pop culture, new content, right? Some of them are a lot bigger than us. But no one does pop culture like we do."