With 90% of Americans living within 10 miles of a Walmart, it’s safe to say the retail giant is a household name in the U.S. But the same isn’t yet true of its $98-a-year Walmart+ membership program, which launched Sept. 15.
And so Walmart is making a big play to generate awareness in what vp of media Jill Toscano called the retailer’s biggest product campaign of 2020.
The full-funnel media plan spans broadcast, audio, digital, social and experiential. Toscano described the retailer’s three-pronged media strategy as relevant, personalized and immersive.
The first component: personalized targeting according to life stage.
“Our customer base is vast, and so what we had to do is find ways to talk to our customers in a meaningful way and understand what life stage they’re at,” Toscano said. “The way we talk to a new mom, who doesn’t even need to leave the house to get groceries, is different than a dad of five who has this down pat.”
The retailer is incorporating dynamic content, as well as insights from analysis of internal data on media consumption and customer psychographics to determine the right message, delivery mode and timing for digital ads. Walmart is also working in what Toscano described as “a more machine learning, algorithmic way” so it doesn’t have to go through hundreds of iterations of a campaign with its creative agency, Deutsch LA. (The media agency is Haworth.)
The result: 21 commercials and “hundreds of assets” for online video, TV and digital, which speak to how Walmart+ may benefit a particular consumer and their family.
Creative for the campaign, “A Different Kind of Membership,” debuted during the NFL opener on Sept. 10, and football will play a central role in the creative to come.
That includes 10 activations called “Plus Up” experiences with seven media partners—Allrecipes, HGTV, Parents, People en Español, The Drew Barrymore Show, the Food Network and NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football—through early 2021.
In the first “Plus Up,” Walmart and NBC Sports sent Eliot Fagley—an anesthesiologist who leads the Covid-19 response team at the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle—and his family to the Seahawks’ home opener as the only fans in the stadium.
In another experience themed to Halloween, Walmart put on a Trunk or Treat event with Walmart+ candy deliveries, custom face masks, six themed cars and a performance by singer Jason Derulo.
Experiences like this are “designed to bring back missed or canceled moments” throughout 2020 like weddings, birthdays and sports and, with help from its media partners, Toscano said Walmart is focused on “how to make those experiences bigger and better than previously planned.”
Meanwhile, Walmart’s NBC Sports partnership includes in-game ads and brand placements, a custom content series with NBC talent and the so-called Walmart+ 4K camera for NFL broadcasts, which the retailer said provides “significantly improved replays and never-before-seen angles, bringing the field into living rooms across the country.”
“Football was coming back, but there was no in-stadium viewing audience, so [we were focused on] how to think about the broadcast experience for all fans watching from screens,” Toscano added.
Additional star power comes from influencers like former Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky, who has posted about the program on her blog and social channels.
The final thread is what Toscano called “content to commerce,” or how to make it easier for customers to shop for viral social media crazes like whipped coffee—think one-click capability to add all ingredients to a shopping cart—through partners like Pinterest, Meredith Digital and BuzzFeed. This helps save customers time, which is a central theme of the Walmart+ campaign. In fact, in a blog post on Sept. 10 announcing the effort, CMO William White said the campaign is intensely focused on how the program saves members time, which he called “life’s most precious gift.”