NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Walmart has chosen the Interpublic Group of Cos. digital shop R/GA to develop its digital presence, specifically its SaveMoneyLiveBetter.com website, according to an executive familiar with the decision.
The $40 million project comes as Walmart has stepped up its presence in social media significantly in the past year, even as the retailer's spending on internet display advertising appears to have waned. The other finalist in the campaign was another Interpublic shop, MRM Worldwide.
The Martin Agency -- which created Walmart's successful "Save money. Live better" repositioning -- is the retailer's lead creative agency. The Richmond, Va.-based shop handles advertising for the Walmart brand, its in-store network and the corporate-affairs account. MediaVest is Walmart's media agency.
While many marketers are busy consolidating their agency rosters in the recession, Walmart has been expanding its roster and handing work to new agencies. It tapped Publicis & Hal Riney to handle marketing for its Great Value brand and and earlier this month launched a massive public-relations review.
Owning the concept of 'value'
SaveMoneyLiveBetter.com is expected to be Walmart's destination for money-saving content and tools, the digital manifestation of the retailer's interest in owning the concept of "value." Walmart hired its first digital-marketing leader in Wanda Young last October and is expected to make digital a much more important area of focus going forward.
Because many of its major competitors -- such as Costco and dollar stores -- lack large digital presences, the retailer has opportunity to become a larger force online than it is in bricks-and-mortar retailing.
In 2008 it launched its Elevenmoms network of mommy bloggers (now numbering 22), and Soundcheck, a 3-year-old program, gained new life last year via a partnership with nine Unilever brands and substantial tie-ins to in-store displays. In March, it used largely public relations and digital to market the "Twilight" DVD launch, which set a record for preorders on Walmart.com in March.
Regarding the digital review, a Walmart spokeswoman said: "I am not aware that any decision has been made or announced." R/GA and MRM declined comment.
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Rupal Parekh contributed to this report.