Sam's Club thanks 'retail heroes' in rare primetime ad

Spot from Mono captures footage from stores during the coronavirus crisis

Published On
Mar 26, 2020

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Sam’s Club rarely advertises, much less on primetime, but it’s making an exception Wednesday night with a 60-second spot to run during “Survivor” on CBS honoring efforts of its employees and other retail workers during the coronavirus crisis.

The spot from Mono, Minneapolis, shows Sam’s Club workers stocking stores (including with much-sought-after Clorox Wipes), disinfecting cart handles and loading orders into cars. It calls out many by name and store location as “The Weight” from The Band plays. A tagline extends the salute beyond the Walmart unit to “All the retail heroes across America.” At a time when it’s hard to shoot new ads because of travel and shelter-in-place restrictions, Sam’s captured footage in its stores, which are allowed to stay open as essential businesses.

Besides Wednesday night's airing, the ad will also run in social media, online video and connected TV, says a spokeswoman.

Sam’s CEO Kathryn McLay is embedding the spot in a thank-you message going out to Sam’s Club employees. "You are showing the world what we always knew: retail associates around the world are capable of extraordinary feats," McLay says. "And we will never forget that Sam’s Club associates were among the heroes who saw us through."

For a sense of how rare Sam’s TV advertising is, shows only one other instance the past five years—an ad for the club store’s Scan & Go self-checkout app featuring Usain Bolt, which ran in November with an estimated outlay of $355,000. (Scan & Go is also a handy tool for making shopping as socially distant as possible, since it lets people bypass checkout lines and requires only two arms-length scans at the store exit. The spokeswoman says Sam’s is now encouraging people to use it as much as possible.) The rest of the $15 million total TV outlay iSpot estimates for Sam’s over the past five years has been co-op advertising funded by Serta mattresses.