He knew the change might be rough on Chicago. After all, we've had that name around for 153 years or so.
But Lundgren knows how to sell, and he had his pitch all worked out for this one. Here's what he was peddling: A done deal, carefully considered, a soft shoulder for Chicago to cry on maybe, even a silk handkerchief in his breast pocket, just in case.
Lundgren met with Mayor Richard Daley and even promised to consider bringing Frango production back to Chicago. Vague and non-committal as it could be, the pledge somehow tamed the mayor's famous temper. No one said he wasn't smart, and Lundgren clearly learned from his predecessor's Frango fiasco that the mayor scorned is not a pretty sight.
Then Lundgren turned his ministrations on the public. "I decided to be present in Chicago because I wanted to be here for what clearly is an emotional decision that is on the minds of everyone," Lundgren said.
These were the terms of the debate, then: Lundgren had sweet reason on his side. The rest of us had little more than emotion.
You can't blame us. Field's had the Frango factory and the Walnut Room and the seventh-floor restaurants and the huge open atrium--as out of fashion today as a Sunday hat or white gloves for evening wear. And, of course, Field's had Santa.
Field's was part of what made Chicago special, but remember, "special" is an emotion. And this is business. And the demands of business made this a no-brainer for Lundgren.
Named Macy's instead of Field's, the stores here in the Midwest can have national advertising backing them. They can carry Macy's exclusive merchandise. They can model displays and promotions after what Macy's does in New York, or its designers dream up at the Federated Department Stores corporate headquarters in Cincinnati.
Lundgren peddled a vision of what a Field's-less future might look like: lavish new fitting rooms, keener product displays, lots of Macy's private-label merchandise, a fashion show or two.
So let's see: We trade in a century-old name, one with a heritage that dates to the Chicago Fire and beyond, and what do we get--some elbow room when we try on new pants? Some deal.
If this all sounds a bit emotional, well, it is. And emotion is what Lundgren and the legions of MBAs that argued for this deal missed when they decided that the Field's name must go. They relied, instead, on logic and experience.
Trouble is, it's hard to view Field's recent history and not get a bit emotional or, as some might indelicately put it, get mad. People get mad because Field's demise was not an act of nature, it was a result of neglect.
Marshall Field's became one of those foster companies, passed from corporate parent to corporate parent, dying a little with each unhappy new home. It got bought by Dayton Hudson, which itself soon became Target Stores, which sold Field's to May Department Stores, which in turn sold out to Federated Department Stores, which on Tuesday announced it will change Field's name to Macy's.
Lundgren explained that Field's has lost some of its cachet over the years. No doubt that's because cost-cutting that looked good at corporate headquarters--whether it happened to be in Minneapolis or St. Louis or Cincinnati--did not look so good when it meant display aisles with no service and cash registers with long lines.
Switching to brown shopping bags sounded like a cost-saving move in the purchasing department, until executives saw the impact on sales. Moving the Frango production made eminent sense--but only to someone blissfully unaware of how the mayor of Chicago might value 157 downtown jobs.
Field's had something far bigger going against it than a few corporate miscues. Field's is part of an outmoded retailing model--the stand-alone department store. Wal-Mart and Target and changing shopping habits are hurting department stores. As a local player in an increasingly national game, the Field's name just could not hold its value anymore.
A change to Macy's was inevitable. The national advertising will sell better, and Macy's purchasers can buy in bulk. The company's surveys show that the Macy's name has a slightly higher cachet, especially with younger customers.