Macy’s Sues to Block Amazon From Its Longtime Billboard Space

Macy’s contends the terms of its agreement with the billboard operator, Kaufman Realty, would be breached by allowing a competitor to advertise.,

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Macy’s sues to block Amazon from taking over the billboard at its Herald Square flagship.

The billboard next door to Macy's flagship store in Herald Square has long carried the Macy's logo against a red background.
The billboard next door to Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square has long carried the Macy’s logo against a red background.Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times
  • Sept. 29, 2021Updated 5:12 p.m. ET

In the heart of Manhattan, a battle is brewing between the old-school department store Macy’s and the e-commerce giant Amazon.

At issue is the high-visibility billboard next to Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square. For 60 years Macy’s has advertised itself on the 2,200-square-foot perch that wraps around the corner of the building, with its star logo prominent against a red background during the annual Thanksgiving Day parade that Macy’s organizes.

Now Macy’s has sued to block Amazon from getting that prime piece of advertising real estate.

Last week the retail chain filed a lawsuit in New York State Court against the billboard’s owner, Kaufman Realty, claiming that the negative impact of allowing a “direct competitor” to promote itself from a block that has long been associated with Macy’s “would be immeasurable.”

“The damages to Macy’s customer good will, image, reputation and brand should a prominent online retailer (especially Amazon) advertise on the billboard are impossible to calculate,” Macy’s said in the complaint.

Amazon and Kaufman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the suit, which was reported earlier by Crain’s New York, Macy’s accused Kaufman of discussing the billboard with Amazon before its lease agreement with Macy’s expired in August. Terms set in 1963 prevent Kaufman from allowing a Macy’s competitor to advertise on the billboard, a prohibition that “runs with the land forever,” according to the complaint.

Macy’s said in a statement that it “continues to have rights relating to advertisements” at the location, adding that “we expect to realize the benefits of these rights and have asked the court to protect them.”

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