Walmart piggy banks on emotion

The retailer continues to focus on building an emotional connection with customers in this year's holiday ad.


Walmart Canada continues to take a more emotional approach to its holiday marketing, using the occasion to position itself as a destination for those who want to “spend less, give big.”

Last year, the retailer’s holiday ad revolved around a teddy bear that is left on the shelf one night, which it uses as an opportunity to explore the store, before being gifted to a young girl by her father. The brand considers the commercial to have been a success. It landed on the Youtube ads leaderboard for Q4 2018 and ranked fourth out of 250 retail ads tracked by Fusion Retail Analytics over the last three years, with 49% of Canadians recalling it and 80% having liked it.

This year’s commercial aims to strike a similar emotional chord through an adorable pet piggy bank that serves as a metaphor for the effort involved in saving money – a consideration that is likely on the minds of many shoppers ahead of the holidays, and one that Walmart feels is part of its core brand promise.

The holiday period is crunch time for advertisers, and despite getting an early start, Walmart is competing for attention against other retailers launching their own holiday ads, many of which aim to forge an emotional connection with consumers.

Tammy Sadinsky, VP of marketing communications at Walmart says that to stand out, the retailer tapped into a near universal desire to save up for a special holiday gift. Told through the eyes of a little boy saving up for his sister, the commercial strengthens the retailer’s value positioning, while retaining an emotional angle not typically associated with cost-focused brands that tend to be more tactical in their messaging.

“At the core of that is the brand promise of saving people money so that they can live better,” she says. “This year’s campaign reinforces that promise and shows how Walmart can be that solution for Canadians.”

The piggy bank – created by a 3D printing company in ceramic and then animated – will also be used in digital and social ads as a way to reinforce the core message of the campaign, Sadinsky says. Earlier this month, the retailer also dropped a “Toy Digest,” which Sadinsky describes as a “coffee table-like” catalogue of toys, as part of its overarching media strategy.

In addition to the launch commercial, which is airing on TV and online, a number of additional videos are slated to roll out over the holiday shopping period that will also feature the piggy bank character, though Sadinsky was unable to share specifics.

Cossette led creative on the campaign, after working on last year’s teddy bear creative as Walmart’s newly named AOR. Mindshare is leading media, Church + State on social media and Apex PR on public relations.