This is no Wal-Mart-sanctioned TV commercial. It's a spot paid for by a music label to promote a new single by country-music artist Danny Griego. The ad's debut aired during the PetroSun Independence Bowl last week. Miramonte Records paid $112,000 to air the 30-second spot twice in a bid to promote the single and create buzz by driving listeners to the accompanying website, walmartgirlssong.com.
Vying for buyers
But the blitz also aims to grab the attention of another audience: Wal-Mart's buyers. Miramonte is looking to gain distribution in the chain, said Jim Lecrone, manager of Miramonte, a division of Red Truck Entertainment based in Scottsdale, Ariz. "They are one of the biggest music retailers in the world," he said.
Miramonte's plan is an all-out media blitz to create the next big country-music hit, tapping the PR potential of the song's association with a divisive retailer mired in an image overhaul and the power of social media (Mr. Griego, a singer-songwriter, is launching his own MySpace page). The spot will also run on 1,088 screens in 94 theatres across the Southwest.
For now, the unconventional approach seems to be working. Within 24 hours of the spots airing during the bowl game, the site logged 65,000 hits, and more than 6,000 users played the music video online. On the site, visitors can also order the CD, but the goal is to build buzz and demand, as the album won't be released until Feb. 14. Until then, there will a radio promotion to 600 country music stations, Mr. Lecrone said.
'Bait a hook, skin a deer'
It remains to be seen whether Wal-Mart will back a song with a video of scantily clad, tummy-baring women and lyrics praising the "Wal-Mart Girls" ("They can cook, bait a hook, skin a deer or twist the top off a Mexican beer ... There ain't nothin' in the world like a Wal-Mart girl").
In an e-mail statement, spokeswoman Linda Blakely downplayed any association with the song. "Danny Griego's record, video and marketing are his own efforts, and if he gets a record deal and this looks like a record people will buy, we may carry it. As with all up and coming musicians, we wish him well."
Wal-Mart itself hasn't had much success with social media. The retailer's previous efforts have come up short -- its aim to build a website to attract teenagers at the Hub, a quasi-social-networking site, shut down just three months after being launched. Another Wal-Mart site introduced this holiday season, toyland.walmart.com, attracted the ire of commercial watchdog groups for its blatant cajoling of children to e-mail adults their holiday wish lists.
Not an ad
Mr. Lecrone denied any collaboration with Wal-Mart. "It was no advertisement for Wal-Mart," he said. "It's still just a song a guy wrote. We have no contracts with Wal-Mart at this time, but hopefully someday."
And about those sexy Wal-Mart girls, do they really work at Wal-Mart? "Oh, no," Mr. Lecrone said, laughing heartily. "Not one."