Saatchi X's Murray brings brand new perspective to Wal-Mart in-store ads

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For andy murray, in-store marketing isn't about corrugated cardboard, displays created with 12-packs of cola and an endless array of clutter-forming ads.

Instead, it's about the high-school prom-and other non-traditional ways to market-in the mind of the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi X, a shopper-marketing specialist that Wal-Mart Stores just named as its in-store marketing agency.

"In-store marketing is now about offering the complete solution," said Mr. Murray, whose Fayetteville, Ark., agency has for the last three years helped Wal-Mart pull together multiple suppliers for a prom-season push. The goal has been to get a piece of the $600 that the average household spends in the estimated $2 billion industry.

"At Wal-Mart you can get it all but the dress," said Mr. Murray, ticking off a list of prom shopping musts, such as teeth-whitening products, cosmetics, and other health and beauty brands.

Back before every package-good brand wanted to own the so-called moment of truth, Mr. Murray was staking an early claim that's paid off handsomely.

"Andy Murray's secret is that he was studying and understanding the shopper before in-store was cool," said Peter Hoyt, In-Store Marketing Institute executive director. "He has pushed in-store from being tactical to being strategic. He's pushed it from an art to a science."

In 1997, after working in information technology at Procter & Gamble Co., Mr. Murray left the company's Wal-Mart team and launched consultancy BrandWorks. His first in-store marketing assignment came with P&G's 2000 launch of Iams pet food in Wal-Mart, after he had merged with another local agency. Saatchi acquired the agency in 2004.

"I knew we were onto something pretty cool and pioneering, but we just kept at it and have been a fighter in this space," said Mr. Murray, 43, married and the father of two sons.

It's a fight Mr. Murray is waging smarter and with more sophistication today as the marketing space he helped bring attention to undergoes a massive overhaul.

a few big ideas

"Things we were doing five or six years ago, you can't do today," he said. "You have to be a part of a selected few big ideas that will change the game. The space has really been without a strong retailer strategy-that's what is changing."

Not only does Saatchi X bring a new perspective to the potential of in-store marketing, but it brings sophisticated research. One promising area is the length of shopping time. Consider that in a 21-minute shopping trip, a shopper spends just six minutes actually shopping. The rest of the time is spent simply trying to find items. The goal then becomes to use in-store marketing to increase actual shopping time.

As Wal-Mart moves to "create clarity" for the shopper inside its cavernous stores, Saatchi X is "an important thought partner in our efforts," said Julie Roehm, Wal-Mart senior VP-marketing communications.

Saatchi X has played an instrumental role in Wal-Mart's famed 203,000-square-foot laboratory store in Plano, Texas, where the retailer is testing an upscale format with everything from sushi to an expansive wine section and, instead of a grid format for aisles, dozens of freestanding displays breaking up the usual supercenter monotony.

Ms. Roehm said in an e-mail: "In-store advertising has the potential to be the most impactful and effective medium in retail's marketing mix."

Just Asking

Andy Murray

Saatchi & Saatchi X

What's your favorite example of in-store execution? I was in the U.K. walking through the dairy section and saw a line of carts filled with kids waiting to squeeze the nose of a fiberglass cow that mooed and whose ears wiggled. It's the little things that enhance the shopping experience.

What's on you reading list? "The Long Tail" by Chris Anderson.
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