Walmart will launch its biggest campaign of the year with a 60-second anthem spot on NBC’s "Thursday Night Football" opener from new agency Deutsch to back Walmart+, a new membership program rolling out Sept. 15 to take on Amazon Prime.
The “Different Kind of Membership” campaign features 22 families “as diverse as the customers we serve,” says William White, chief marketing officer of Walmart U.S., in a blog post. The commercials were created by husband-and-wife filmmaking duo Daniel and Katina Mercadante, who were embedded with the families to create documentary-style ads showing what they did with the time and money saved when given an early chance to try Walmart+.
The team generated more than 100 hours of unscripted footage and 30 hours of audio interviews over 14 days from July 14 to Aug. 3 in Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It all was in accordance with COVID-19 production safety guidelines that included testing the families and small production crew, White says. The campaign also will span digital, social, audio and experiential marketing.
Households featured include Asian, Black, LatinX, white and multiracial families, new and single parents, multigenerational households and families with members who have disabilities, White says. The campaign “captures a snapshot into their authentic, chaotic and beautiful lives–from everyday moments, like family dinners, to monumental ones, like the homecoming of a newborn baby,” White says.
Walmart+ is a membership program that costs $98 annually or $12.95 monthly, offering unlimited free same-day delivery on orders $35 and up for 160,000 items. It also includes 5-cent-a-gallon discounts on gas and use of a Scan & Go mobile checkout app at Walmart stores. By comparison, Amazon Prime features unlimited next-day shipping on thousands of items with no minimum order for $119 annually, or $12.99 monthly, and also includes Prime Video and discounts on Amazon Music subscriptions.
“We simply asked people what would you do if we were able to give you more time,” White says. “We heard that they would spend that time on the things that really matter to them, like their families, friends and communities. So instead of going out and hiring a cast to tell you what Walmart+ membership includes, we decided to give early access to 22 families around the country and documented what Walmart+ enabled them to do.”
The anthem spot also portrays membership as a sort of unifying force at a time when civil unrest over racial justice issues and a polarizing national election has left the country anything but unified.
“There are memberships for all kinds of things today,” says a voiceover. “But what about memberships for bigger things? Human things,” including family, community, humanity.
The ad then portrays Walmart+ as a membership that gives people “time to do the things that really matter.” Future ads will delve deeper into specifics of the program and what people do with time and money saved.
“We’re certainly not trying to make a political statement,” White says. “But we chose these 22 families carefully. I think these families represent America. For Walmart, we have 150 million people coming through our doors every week. America is shopping at Walmart.”
Deutsch, Los Angeles, came to Walmart with the idea in winning a pitch “and we jumped on it,” says White, a Target veteran who himself came on board as CMO in April.
“We’re continuing to work with the other agencies,” White says, which include Publicis Groupe’s Department W, MDC-backed Mono and Deutsch’s Interpublic sibling FCB.
“We brought Deutsch in for a little bit of different thinking,” White says. “The work they’ve done over the past several years for a number of clients speaks for itself.”