Wal-Mart Says ‘Smile More’

NEW YORK Wal-Mart this week will launch a new ad campaign via Bernstein-Rein around the theme, “Save More, Smile More.”

The 30-second television spots by the Kansas City, Mo., agency will run on network and national cable stations.

Separately, Wal-Mart today named Julie Roehm senior vice president of marketing communications, responsible for the overall development of advertising strategies, creative services and special events. The position is new to the company. Roehm reports to Wal-Mart CMO John Fleming. She most recently served as director of marketing communications for the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands.

The ads feature a series of lifestyle vignettes that show people using Wal-Mart merchandise, including food, home decor, fitness equipment, and health and beauty products in their everyday activities. Wal-Mart’s iconic smile appears in each scene.

“The smiles aren’t all easy to spot in these ads, but if you look closely, you’ll find every one of them,” said Wal-Mart CMO John Fleming in a statement. “Similarly, we know that our customers will find the value they want at Wal-Mart in every one of our categories, even where they least expect it, if they cross the aisle to take a closer look. Our goal is to make that trip across the aisle a pleasant surprise for our customers every time.”

Wal-Mart’s longtime tagline has been “Always low prices,” which the company continues to use on its Web site, though the slogan does not appear in the new ads.

The company spent close to $580 million in measured media in 2004 and more than $400 million in the first 10 months of last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Wal-Mart is frequently embroiled in controversy, and its latest image snafu is taking place in Maryland, where the state legislature last week passed a law over the governor’s veto requiring any company with more than 10,000 in-state employees to spend 8 percent of its payroll on employee health insurance or pay the difference into the state’s Medicaid fund. In Maryland, only Wal-Mart meets those parameters. A similar measure will be debated by the Wisconsin state legislature.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with the news of Roehm’s arrival.