Wal-Mart Conjures Up Elfin Magic for Holidays

NEW YORK A new holiday campaign for Wal-Mart by the Geppetto Group here stars two elves, Wally and Marty, who test toys in the retailer’s Toyland.

A cinema and TV commercial, animated by the U.K.’s Aardman Animations, explains that before any products can make it to Toyland, they need to pass the tests of the expert elves. “Ah, that new toy smell,” says Marty, as the pair opens the latest toy delivery. They go on to test various toys, including a Dora the Explorer doll and a Power Wheels Ford Mustang. Other toys, like a flatulent, buck-toothed teddy, get thrown into the “Rejects” can. As the spot closes, a voiceover explains, “They only choose toys that can guarantees smiles.”

“Wal-Mart has a huge selection of innovative, exclusive, latest and greatest toys. We wanted to come up with characters that could articulate that,” said Christopher McKee, chief creative officer at Geppetto. “These characters have an instant connection with kids.”

[Wally and Marty] are renegade, modern elves, said McKee, who have started their own business, Toyland. Their personalities represent the different ways kids think about and interact with toys.

“Wally is very analytical, and Marty is, ‘What would I do with it, how do I play with it?'” he explained. “They represent the right and left side of kids’ brains.”

In addition to the commercial, the campaign includes print, point-of-purchase and a microsite that contains an online comic book featuring the characters.

The ad, which has been cut into 30- and 60-second versions for TV and cinema, respectively, has been running in some of the same theaters as Aardman’s feature, Flushed Away.