Walmart was founded in Rogers, Arkansas, by Sam Walton in 1962 to offer low prices to customers anytime and anywhere. It is a giant retail chain that has grown over the years opening several stores across the United States and has also penetrated other international markets such as the Canadian, Mexican, Chinese, and European Union markets. The growth has been due to its versatile advertising depending on the timeframe to relate to existing customer needs and the prevailing consumer environment. Branding has also been instrumental in Walmart’s survival and growth by ensuring it adapts to several environmental, political, social, and cultural factors. Relevant advertising demonstrated by 2000 and 2019 commercials are to be discussed to elaborate on branding and the prevalent popular culture on which the latter advert is based. An analysis of the two advertisements will facilitate an understanding of the commercials’ role in affirming Walmart’s position as a significant brand.
There is a clear distinction between the commercials promoting the company over the years. The two adverts that showcase different themes are “Always low prices at Walmart,” which was run in 2000 to highlight gender norms. It varies from the 2019 grocery pickup campaign (“Planet Earth II Continues: Official Trailer.”), which had an entertainment theme based on iconic movie cars. The 2000 advert stars a mother with four children shopping for various items. She applauds the establishment of having fresh groceries, clothes, shoes, and toys under one roof and at affordable prices. The lady also states that they live on a budget, and with four kids, Walmart offers the family the best option due to the pricing of the commodities and the diversity features since she can save some money. One can sufficiently conclude that Walmart appeals to its customers by offering the financially strained family an avenue to purchase all the essential supplies under one roof at an affordable price, thus focusing the advert on a commercial aspect.
On the other hand, the 2019 advert entails using famous movie cars to promote the collection of grocery orders made online. The campaign highlights the glorious moment when attendants load the vehicles with the customer’s groceries. The vehicles are from iconic films, and thus consumers can readily relate to them. They include the batmobile from Justice League, Ecto-1 used by Ghostbusters, K.I.T.T from Knight Rider, Lightning McQueen from Disney Pixar Cars, Bumblebee, Wagon Queen Family Truckster, and Mutt Cutts van from Dumb and Dumber, among others (“Introducing Our Biggest Walmart Grocery Pickup Campaign”). The commercial targets the population that watches movies, hence relating to the cars used. The critical implication is that the company offers its customers shopping convenience and does not focus on pricing.
The two advertisements portray diverse elements and appeal differently to customers. 2000 commercial is set when women had specific duties, thus articulating the prevalent gender norms. The woman is overwhelmed by all the responsibilities, especially taking care of four children, and three of them are triplets. Walmart offers all the commodities under one roof and at a low price, therefore, saving her time and fitting the woman’s family budget, allowing her to save money for other needs. The 2019 grocery pickup commercial involves the collection of orders that have been made online. There is a young couple at the collection point, highlighting the former advert’s difference, which only had the mother shopping with her children.
The campaign informs customers of the convenience of the online grocery shopping experience. The customers have to pick the items virtually instead of struggling to locate all the items in their isles physically. Other features demonstrated include speed and the ease of shopping at Walmart and everyone’s accommodation despite the type of car they drive, demonstrating that both the young and the old can enjoy the service regardless of their unique family dynamics. The 2000 commercial was categorical in the sense that the lady was shopping for her family. In contrast, the 2019 advert offers freedom for the consumers to purchase products without focusing on their family structure and the members of the various units.
The 2000 and the 2019 commercials demonstrate affordability and convenience to both existing and potential customers, thus establishing it as a significant brand. Each of the adverts was made to help customers relate to the existing trend at the time. Seeing that the woman is overwhelmed by child care at the time considering she has four children, the 2000 advert targets her by providing all the goods under one roof at a low price. As a result, the family unit, which is the basic structure in a society, obtained a reprieve from the company. 2019 commercial is taken to a higher level due to the digitalization of the shopping space, giving customers the convenience and ease of shopping away from the physical store. The use of famous movie vehicles incorporated the entertainment culture across the United States to ensure that the company relates to the present customer needs, especially the millennials.
Various commercials fall under different categories, thus creating different branding strategies, as indicated by O’Barr. The four different types are cultural, emotional, viral, and mind-share branding. Cultural branding appeals to significant aspects of society, such as gender inequalities and racial discrimination. Advertising based on cultural branding creates a myth surrounding a particular feature, thus catapulting the brand to iconic status since most people can identify with the situation highlighted. Emotional branding identifies the appropriate emotions to elicit from a product beyond the external use. Viral branding is dependent on a rapid spread based as consumers share the brand with others. It is reliant on the various social media platforms available currently. Moreover, mind-share branding relays a particular message concerning the advantages of a product or an organization hence associating the specific feature with the brand.
Both commercials fall under the cultural branding category. The 2000 advert revolved around socially constructed gender norms. One can decipher that childcare and shopping duties are woman’s obligations. The 2019 advertisement differs slightly through the use of popular icons to appeal to consumers. It is based on Hollywood movies which many people can relate to and highlights the shift from social constructs to gender norms. Through famous film cars, consumers can recognize and depict ease, speed, and convenience while collecting groceries at the pickup stations. It shows that the customers are assured of other benefits on top of obtaining their orders. For example, the attendants load the cars with already packed orders. Hence, there is efficiency since customers are assured that they will not be delayed since their orders will be ready.
Popular culture is a central theme in advertising to ensure that consumers relate to products or companies with ease. For example, the 2019 T.V. commercial presented an entertainment feature since it used famous film cars. Whereas T.V commercials are not popular culture, their content depicts a major popular culture theme to facilitate comprehension and to create a lasting impression in the viewer’s minds. The choice of several iconic movies and incorporating Hollywood while shooting the commercial to ensure all the relevant vehicles were present indicates that it was based on an entertainment feature. This critical aspect targets the youthful population conversant with the movies and prefer online shopping instead of physically visiting the stores to select the required items.
The use of popular film cars in the commercial alienates the older generation, which prefers a physical shopping experience instead of purchasing commodities virtually. Consumers are warier in trusting online vendors since they are not sure of the items’ quality and the purchase’s reliability. The advertisement does not guarantee safe and secure shopping, which would help the group feel at ease with the campaign. Moreover, the high speed raises doubt on safety issues since some commodities spill out of the cars.
In conclusion, branding has been a crucial feature in promoting and sustaining Walmart’s growth and development over the years. Advertising has been customized to address various customer needs and suit existing customer needs, as demonstrated by comparing the 2000 and the 2019 commercials. To ensure that customers relate to the 2019 advert, the company opted for an entertainment theme by focusing on famous movie cars from iconic films.
Hunt, Irma, et al. “Walmart’s International Expansion: Successes and Miscalculations.” Journal of Business Strategy, vol. 39, no. 2, 2018, pp. 22-29. .
Introducing Our Biggest Walmart Grocery Pickup Campaign. Walmart, 2019.
O’Barr, William M. “Project MUSE – The Management of Brands.” Muse.Jhu.Edu, 2007.
“Planet Earth II Continues: Official Trailer.” YouTube, uploaded by B.B.C. Earth, 2016.