Walmart targets growing needs

The retailer's back-to-school campaign looks to give extra value to both moms and post-secondary students.


This year’s back-to-school season has Walmart Canada telling Canadians it can be there for whatever customers need this time of the year – even if it seems like that’s always changing.

A new spot for the retailer’s back-to-school campaign, created by J. Walter Thompson Canada, shows a kid, seemingly as prepared as possible to head back to school. But in the time it takes his mom to set up a photo, he seems to age in a blink of an eye.

Jennifer Holgate, VP of marketing communications at Walmart Canada, says while last year’s back-to-school campaign focused on how moms know the exact products their kids need, this year’s added in a new insight: that, despite having that knowledge, those needs are changing very quickly.

“Mom really feels like their kids are growing up fast,” Holgate says. “A parent feels like part of their role is being able to continuously equip your kids, but you might not realize how much they’ve grown when the end of the summer rolls around. We’re showing that we can be there to help make sure they’re set up to start the new school year right.”

The spot is one element of a full omnichannel program for the back-to-school season, which also includes radio, social posts, influencer engagement and in-store signage, with online materials – including its own e-commerce portal – highly targeted at the back-to-school shopper. St. Joseph Communication supported the omnichannel execution, with additional support on the campaign coming from Apex PR, Ruckus Digital and Mindshare on media.


Walmart says that value continues to be a major choice driver when it comes to the retailers Canadians choose for their back-to-school shopping, something it capitalized on last year when it’s messaging celebrated “smart shoppers” who were looking for ways to save money and live better, the retailer’s long-standing brand promise.

Portions of this year’s campaign also target “back-to-campus” consumers, with online how-to videos – dubbed “Answers to inevitable student questions” – that show lifehack-style solutions to things like cooking cheap meals, folding laundry and fixing devices.

Walmart included elements targeted at post-secondary students last year as well, though Holgate says the way it approaches that demo needs to evolve every year as media consumption habits change. While the rest of its back-to-school program primarily target moms, speaking to post-secondary students directly and giving them added value as well is important as they tend to have far more input in back-to-school purchase decisions, if they aren’t doing the shopping themselves.

“They’re fun and cute, but also short and poignant and gets our products into a solution that, like anything we do in omnichannel, play well across mobile and desktop and social,” Holgate says. “They also provide utility and extra value to the students. It’s not just about what we sell, it’s about being top of mind by helping them in other ways, like smart, value-driven solutions, as they begin this new journey in life.”