Did Walmart’s short films win Oscar night?
For its first-ever commercials for the Academy Awards, Walmart recruited some acclaimed directors to move its messaging beyond low prices.
Under the theme, “Behind every receipt, there’s a great story,” the directors were tasked with making 60-second “short films” based on six items listed on a Walmart receipt: paper towels, bananas, batteries, scooters, wrapping paper and a video baby monitor.
In a statement, Kirsten Evans, Walmart’s SVP of marketing, said the items “represent what our customers experience in the store — a combination of food items, everyday general merchandise items and then some items that are a little special.”
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, actors who have collaborated on comedies such as “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express,” came up with “Bananas Town,” a musical comedy. Encouraged by their teacher to find “inspiration in unusual places,” a class erupts into dance and sings songs based on those receipt items while encountering a barbershop quartet, ballerinas and the same teacher dressed as a banana.
The other two shorts came from Antoine Fuqua, known for action thrillers such as “Training Day,” and Marc Forster, director of “Monster’s Ball” and “Kite Runner.”
Walmart signed a three-year commitment as the show’s retail sponsor.
“Our brand proposition is ‘Save money, live better,’ and we think we can do more to tell the ‘live better’ side of our brand story,” Ms. Evans told Campaign US. “We’re looking for places to engage our customers in a way that shows that we know what they are passionate about and that we want to be a part of that experience.”
Speaking to USA Today, Laura Ries, president of branding consultancy Ries & Ries, felt the placement was a mismatch because the Oscars are a “high-end, glamorous event and Walmart is not glamorous.”
However, others felt the Academy Awards, often described as the “Super Bowl for women,” reaches a broad yet diverse audience Walmart might be missing. Lopo Rego, a marketing professor at Indiana University, told USA Today, “They’re not pushing low prices every day. I don’t think there’s a lot for Walmart to lose.’’
- Lights! Camera! Receipt! Walmart Takes on the Oscars – Walmart
- “Bananas Town” by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg – YouTube
- The Gift’ a film by Antoine Fuqua – YouTube
- ‘Lost & Found’ a film by Marc Forster – YouTube
- Annnnnd action! Check out 3 unique films based on the same Walmart receipt – YouTube
- Go behind the scenes as 4 award-winning directors create films based on a single Walmart receipt. – YouTube
- See Seth Rogen’s ‘bananas’ musical for Walmart’s Oscars campaign – Campaign US
- Seth Rogen goes ‘bananas’ in Walmart ad for Oscars – USA Today
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Walmart’s Academy Awards placement and the storytelling-themed executions? Does the retail giant need to take its message beyond low prices?