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Industry Retail, Distribution & Rental companies
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Cohn & Wolfe
Released September 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Retail and E-commerce, including Restaurants
Advertiser: WALMART
Product/Service: RETAILER
Senior Director Public Relations: Amy Lester (Walmart)
Chief Branding Officer: Patricia Godefroy (Cohn & Wolfe)
Chief Creative Catalyst: Jeremy Baka (Cohn & Wolfe)
Senior Vice President: Julie Law (Cohn & Wolfe)
Account Director: Danit Marquardt (Cohn & Wolfe)
Supervising Producer: Dee Dee Thomas (NBC Universal)
Media placement: Overview and Run of Show - Today Show, Hillsboro Argus, Watertown Daily Times, Yahoo.com, EW.com, Huffingto - 9 December 2010
Media placement: Product Lists (Gifts/Decorations) - Today Show, Hillsboro Argus, Watertown Daily Times, Yahoo.com, EW.com, Huffingto - 9 December 2010
Media placement: Media List - Today Show, Hillsboro Argus, Watertown Daily Times, Yahoo.com, EW.com, Huffingto - 9 December 2010
Media placement: Pitch - Today Show, Hillsboro Argus, Watertown Daily Times, Yahoo.com, EW.com, Huffingto - 9 December 2010

Summary of the Campaign
How does a retailer motivate holiday shoppers to come to its stores during the worst recession in three decades? In the middle of the most cut-throat retail battle in recent memory, Walmart was searching for an unconventional holiday plan to raise its marketing voice above the cacophony of retail noise.
The goal was not only to be heard by, but to be embraced by, Walmart’s most valued consumers: moms.

Walmart research showed that emotional "real-life" ads can cause a 40 percent jump in "traffic intent." Knowing this, we set out to orchestrate three "Surprise Christmases" for some special people, on air, to emotionally resonate with moms and remind them that Walmart can help.
But first, we had to convince the most-watched morning news show in the country, "Today Show," to get involved.

We succeeded in "delivering Christmas" to an 11-year-old girl, a home of veterans, and a community of expectant mothers, all in less than 25 days and in front of a nation of moms on the "Today Show."
In a welcome surprise, this concept even inspired Oprah to get involved.

The Situation
This holiday campaign was developed for Walmart during a difficult financial time for businesses and consumers. How do you sensitively talk to consumers, specifically moms, about buying lots of gifts when so many people are simply struggling to get by? What’s more, how do you do that amidst all the holiday "noise?"

The trick was to deliver Walmart’s promotional holiday messaging with an emotional hook.
An emotionally-triggered campaign would resonate with moms and solidify their Christmas shopping loyalty, while nurturing Americans’ belief in the magic of Christmas.

The Goal
The key was to find real, unfolding stories about people who were struggling in unique ways and deserved a special Christmas.

We scoured news reports, blogs and social network sites and worked with "Today Show" producers to uncover just the right recipients, including a:
• Little girl from Texas who longed for a red, white and blue Christmas tree to honour her father who died in Afghanistan
• Woman in Oregon who opens her doors to homeless veterans
• Community of expectant military mothers in Fort Drum, New York

With recipients found, we had 25 days to plan surprise Christmases on Dec. 9th, 16th and 23rd.

Each Christmas required precise planning to organically incorporate store associates and a wide array of merchandise, and to do it all in a meaningful and memorable way. This included coordinating with "Today Show" producers, Walmart PR, Digital and Marketing teams and store owners.

The Strategy
1. Leverage Walmart research that shows emotional vignettes like these can drive a 40 percent jump in Walmart "traffic intent" and rate 13 percent higher than the advertising norm in brand positivity and believability.
2. Use a series of three surprise Christmases to remind moms/families that Walmart is there to help them through difficult economic times.
3. Convince "Today Show" to broadcast our stories to its vast audience of mom consumers.
4. Get "Walmart-branded holiday stories" on-air during the heart of the holiday buying time.
5. Create Walmart employee pride for added energy and performance during the holidays.

Execution
The key was to find real, unfolding stories about people who were struggling in unique ways and deserved a special Christmas.

We scoured news reports, blogs and social network sites and worked with "Today Show" producers to uncover just the right recipients, including a:
• Little girl from Texas who longed for a red, white and blue Christmas tree to honour her father who died in Afghanistan
• Woman in Oregon who opens her doors to homeless veterans
• Community of expectant military mothers in Fort Drum, New York

With recipients found, we had 25 days to plan surprise Christmases on Dec. 9th, 16th and 23rd.

Each Christmas required precise planning to organically incorporate store associates and a wide array of merchandise, and to do it all in a meaningful and memorable way. This included coordinating with "Today Show" producers, Walmart PR, Digital and Marketing teams and store owners.

Documented Results
• 15 million viewers were captivated by our three surprise Christmases
• 24 minutes of branded TV
• $13.7 million publicity value including subsequent broadcast, online and print coverage.
• 34:1 ROI
• 100+ Walmart associates participated
• Inspired Oprah to ask Walmart to do the same on her show – 9.8 million more viewers (77 percent female) and an added $10.5 million publicity value.

The Promo / PR Ad titled HEART OF CHRISTMAS was done by Cohn & Wolfe advertising agency for Walmart in United States. It was released in Sep 2012.