BrainTrust Query: Will Wal-Mart’s Appointment of an ‘In-Store Agency of Record’ Spark a New Trend?
By Laura Davis-Taylor, Founder and Principal, Retail Media Consulting
Last week, Wal-Mart stores appointed agency Saatchi & Saatchi X agency of record for their shopper, in-store and associate communications. In positioning the news, Julie Roehm, Wal-Mart’s Sr. Vice President of Marketing Communications, said, “Wal-Mart continues to evolve its experience with shoppers and associates. How we connect and communicate with them is of great importance to us.”
The agency will direct all in-store media used to reach shoppers, including the programming on its in-store TV network.
This news is a potential catalyst to both the retail and advertising industries, as it is the first formal agency of record (AOR) appointment of its kind with a major U.S. retailer. Clearly, Retail Media is a term — and service offering — quickly gaining credibility.
However, questions arise as to how an “in-store agency of record” interfaces successfully with the established stakeholders in charge of traditional merchandising, POP and burgeoning digital signage networks. What is considered Retail Media versus traditional merchandising real estate? Further, how is it separated from the store design teams’ responsibilities?
It will also be important to see if Saatchi X will have success leading the
effort as a singular resource. After all, they will be driving an enormous shift
in store communications strategy, processes, and execution.
Discussion Questions: Can an outsourced agency successfully
manage the dizzying array of constituents that will be involved in making this
happen? Or, would Wal-Mart have been better off appointing an internal lead
to work with the In-Store Agency and slowly transition the corporate camps?
Having started my career in the advertising industry,
it was always shocking to me that the Agency had so little to do with the brand
strategy of the retail store environment. It made no sense, as they were making
the most vocal consumer promises yet had little involvement ensuring that those
promises were kept. From the retailer’s perspective, this had to do with the
fact that the Agency simply didn’t understand merchandising, customer experience
design and the operational realities of activating programs in-store.
I feel that this news is positive, as Saatchi X has proven
that they “get retail” from the consumer lens and have spent the past 8 years
proving it to Wal-Mart. A strong brand underneath the Publicis holding company,
this could be a powerful move that launches a much needed Agency services trend.
However, having nested within the walls of various retail
corporate headquarters, I question if legacy mid-level management will easily
pass the baton to one Agency team to lead every single Retail Media effort.
An “In-Store Agency” will need to effectively build bridges with Merchandising,
Marketing, Employee Communications, Interactive, IT, Store Planning and Operations
teams — no easy feat. If successful, however, the outcome could bring real
meaning to building customer-centric brand strategies.
Be it an agency or an appointed team lead, the concept
of building a central control point for all store communications just makes
sense. Like other change management, it’s simply going to take some trial, error
and strong leadership to get it right.
& Saatchi X Appointed by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. as Agency of Record to
Lead Shopper, In-Store and Associate Communications – Saatchi & Saatchi
Strengthens Relationship With Saatchi X – AdAge (free reg. required)
Taps Saatchi & Saatchi X as In-Store AOR – Promo