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Macy's executive gives tough love to newspapers

NEW YORK - The chief marketing officer of Macy's department stores delivered tough talk to the newspaper industry Tuesday, telling a publishing conference why her company is moving ad dollars to other media such as TV, magazines and the Internet.

Anne MacDonald, a self-proclaimed newspaper "junkie" who keeps stacks of them around her home and reads several each day, told publishers they need to do more to win back business from Macy's, which is part of Federated Department Stores Inc.

With Macy's now a national brand following Federated's acquisition of May Department Stores, the chain is turning increasingly to media with a national reach such as fashion magazines, television and Web sites, she said.

Newspapers are still effective at delivering local messages, she said, but need to do more to engage Macy's shoppers - primarily women ages 18-54.

"In order for your newspapers to be winning our advertising dollars, you need to be winning in the marketplace, and that's not currently the case," MacDonald said in a keynote talk at the conference held by the Newspaper Association of America.

Analysts and investors have long been concerned about the decline in ad spending by department stores, and in particular Macy's, as they become national brands and less likely to use local media such as newspapers. Also, newspapers have been struggling with declining circulation and ad dollars as more people get their news online.

Among MacDonald's several suggestions for change was for newspapers to collaborate more effectively across regions and with each other in selling advertising, which would allow national companies such as Macy's to reach a broader audience.