Macy’s sues to keep Amazon ads out of iconic Herald Square store

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Retailer Macy’s has taken legal action to prevent e-commerce giant Amazon from advertising on its iconic Herald Square store in New York City, arguing that allowing it to do so would cause “immeasurable” damage to its business.

“The damage to Macy’s customer base, image, reputation and brand if a leading online retailer (especially Amazon) advertises on the billboard is impossible to calculate.” Macy’s said in court documents filed in New York state court Friday.

In its lawsuit, Macy’s is pushing to prevent the site’s owner, the Kaufman organization, from making a deal with Amazon to prevent it from advertising on its flagship store site. In particular, it argued that a clause in its previous contract with Kaufman prevents any other competitor from using the space for advertisements.

According to The Real Deal, Macy’s was looking to renew its ad space at its 1313 Broadway location in May, three months before a 10-year lease expired in late August. Kaufman alleged at the time that he was working with a “major online retailer” on an advertising deal, but the lawsuit does not name Amazon as a defendant. Macy’s suspected it was Amazon, however, based on the online giant’s plans to open stores around New York City.

Macy’s insisted that a provision in its previous contract with Kaufman indefinitely prohibited other retailers from advertising on the site. Kaufman’s lawyers, however, have rejected the request and the retailer is hoping a judge will verify this clause in its previous contract.

Macy’s Herald Square store is like sacred business ground. The location opened in 1902 and has been advertising locally since at least the 1960s, earning it a place among New York’s most iconic places. The site was even named a National Historic Landmark in 1978 by the US government in recognition of its historical significance.

The fear that Amazon will market itself at the heart of its franchise is particularly palpable for Macy’s due to the way Amazon has undermined the businesses of traditional retailers for years.

In his lawsuit, Macy’s went so far as to compare him to a “conquering enemy” on his record, underlining his concerns about giving Amazon any boost if he were allowed to advertise on Herald Square.

“Like a conquering enemy, it would be like a competitor hanging his ‘flag’ on top of Macy’s flagship department store and announcing victory,” Macy’s said in the lawsuit.


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