Walmart+ Campaign Focuses on Saving Time, Not Amazon Prime

Subscribers can "spend more time being … a member of humanity"

The retailer's campaign for Walmart+ features broadcast, digital, social, radio and experiential elements. Walmart
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Walmart is heralding the launch of its Walmart+ membership program with a new campaign, “A Different Kind of Membership,” which will kick off with a 60-second commercial during the NFL opener on NBC tonight.

According to a blog post, the campaign will also include digital, social, radio and experiential elements. They will feature vignettes from the lives of 22 diverse families, which William White, CMO of Walmart U.S., said illustrates how “Walmart+ enables us to do more of what matters most to all of us—spending time with loved ones.”

Time is indeed central to the campaign—and perhaps Walmart+ itself. In the fact, in his post, White called time “life’s most precious gift.”

Per the retailer’s figures, the average family spends 2.5 hours a week shopping, or about 130 hours each year. “When we asked our customers what they would do if we could give them back this time, they unanimously said they’d spend it on the things that really matter to them,” White wrote. “Things like family, friends and community.”

To help with that goal, Walmart is teasing “inventive customer activations designed to uplift customers in the wake of canceled or postponed events.” While it did not specify all that’s to come, the post said Walmart will “‘plus up’ some of our customers’ most-missed moments,” such as sending a healthcare worker and their family to an NFL game as the only fans in the stadium, which will air in an upcoming broadcast of NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football.

The documentary-style ad campaign was shot by filmmakers Daniel and Katina Mercadante, who embedded themselves with their subjects, which Walmart says resulted in over 100 hours of video and 30 hours of audio.

It’s a splashy effort as Walmart prepares to release its alternative to Amazon Prime, a program that already has more than 150 million members worldwide and offers free two-day shipping on any order, as well as discounts at Whole Foods and video and music streaming, to name a few benefits.

Walmart finally shared details about its competing program on Sept. 1, after confirming the program was in the works more than six months prior. For $98 a year (or $12.95 a month), Walmart+ members receive free delivery on orders of $35 or more and will be able to use Walmart’s in-store Scan & Go payment option. They’ll also save up to 5 cents per gallon at select gas stations.

Analysts, however, weren’t all that impressed, noting the $35 threshold may work for weekly grocery orders, but not for the everyday basics shoppers need in between. That being said, with more benefits to come next year, they noted Walmart+ could become more compelling if, say, the retailer were to revive a service like Savings Catcher—the tool that allowed customers to scan their receipts to compare prices to local competitors and reimbursed the difference—to offer Walmart+ members further savings.

And while Walmart has repeatedly said Walmart+ has nothing to do with Amazon’s $119-a-year Prime program and is instead about saving customers time, the campaign name “A Different Kind of Membership” suggests otherwise. (So do comments from chief customer officer Janey Whiteside from a conference call earlier this month, when she said Walmart+ is about saving customers money and time at a particularly complicated moment—and she is “confident the benefits are tangible beyond fast shipping and entertainment.”)

For his part, White echoed Whiteside’s talking points, concluding his blog post with, “Our hope is that by being a Walmart+ member, you’re able to spend more time being the most important member—a family member, a community member and a member of humanity.”

@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.