The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Amazon vs. Walmart

Amazon's "Give"
Nov 28, 2017
George Anderson

Much of the press coverage around the retail industry this year has centered around the competition between and Walmart. With the Christmas selling season underway, even more attention will be focused on the two industry giants.

Amazon, according to third-party forecasts, is expected to continue grabbing share of the online market. Many expect that it’s a matter of when, not if, Amazon will eventually account for half of all purchases made during the holiday season.

Walmart has increasingly focused on its omnichannel capabilities to offer customers a choice of where, when and how they purchase the products they need. True to its heritage, Walmart has cut prices to the point that it has now reached relative parity with Amazon online. Walmart’s online prices are only 0.3 percent more expensive than those charged by Amazon, according to new research from Market Track.

It makes sense in light of the dynamics between the two retail giants that commercials created for Christmas would not only look to connect to the spirit of the season, but also play up their respective abilities to deliver for their customers.

Amazon’s “Give” commercial, uses a backing track from Supertramp along with some computer-generated imagery (CGI) to take viewers along on a journey.

Walmart’s “Christmas Like a Rock Star” spot uses Peter Townshend’s “Let My Love Open the Door” to communicate that there are many ways for gifts to find their way to family and friends, including free two-day shipping without a membership fee.

DISCUSSION QUESTION:  What is your critique of Amazon’s “Give” and Walmart’s “Christmas Like a Rock Star”? Which do you think does a better job of connecting with each company’s core customers while reaching out to new shoppers?

"Amazon focuses on convenience and spreading joy. The singing packages don’t hurt."
"Wow, these two commercials do very well for their respective brand. If forced to choose, I’d give Amazon a win by a nose — barely."
"What is truly fascinating is the speed at which Walmart is rebranding itself as modern and current, in a matter of months since Marc Lore..."

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22 Comments on "The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Amazon vs. Walmart"

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Max Goldberg

Both spots are well done, but my vote goes to Amazon because it is all inclusive and not just a Christmas message.

Zel Bianco

They are both very well done, but I would say the Amazon commercial is more effective at showcasing the entire process of selecting an item on your phone and having it go through the chain of delivery to the end-receiver. What is unique about this spot is that the packages become human while not diminishing the actual human touch both in the sender and the receiver of the gift. Very clever. Does it connect to new shoppers? Yes I think so.

The Walmart commercial also did a good job of making sure it was cast appropriately and very inclusive of all while making sure that their key selling point — free delivery and no membership fee — is communicated clearly.

The Amazon vs. Walmart battle will be interesting to watch this month.

Brandon Rael

I enjoyed both spots, however Amazon’s commercial really resonated with me on an emotional and sentimental level.

Holiday commercials that go beyond the branding and product messaging hit the core of what this season is all about. Amazon seamlessly interwove their fulfillment capabilities, in a fun way, all while connecting with the audience on a different level.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.

A couple of well done commercials. Walmart does a great job with its 30 second ad. However, the Amazon ad captures the season a bit better and demonstrates Amazon’s terrific logistics system.

Neil Saunders

I like both adverts. However, for me the winner is Amazon.

What do I like about it? It’s fun and amusing and the anthropomorphic singing packages are endearing.

I also think it will resonate with consumers in that it shows sending a gift to those far away is very easy with Amazon. Convenience is key over this busy period!

It also subtly highlights Amazon’s logistics expertise – even if the packages don’t really sing!

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)

Walmart, hands down. Call me Grinchy, but retail could just feel some backlash as consumers realize that Christmas is more than what comes in a box. The rise of gift cards and the importance of sale pricing are harbingers.

Meaghan Brophy

Amazon’s commercial is too cute! I love that they found a creative way to utilize their logo in the overall message. I think Walmart’s is well done. It starts out very strong, and I love that they focus on family. But the end feels like a direct dig at Amazon. When put next to each other, Amazon is the winner. Though Walmart claims to focus on their omnichannel experience, the commercial does not reflect that at all. Instead, it chooses to compete with Amazon’s Prime. Amazon focuses on convenience and spreading joy. The singing packages don’t hurt.

Peter Luff

These are both good. Amazon has spent heavier and created a lengthy one-minute add, but it’s pleasing to see a true 30 second add in this space and still get a Christmas message. I suspect at 30 seconds the ROI will work better for Walmart. I find it easier to warm to people than boxes, even with the CGI smiles. For that reason, I am picking Walmart.

Ben Ball

I’ve got to give Walmart props for focusing on the facts that matter and differentiate: free two-day shipping — with no membership fees. (Though I might have made the last phrase bold and in all caps.)

But Amazon wins on the messaging for me. Having the packages “be the love” is brilliant.

Ed Rosenbaum

A difficult decision. I gave it to Amazon. The message said to me we will go anywhere, anytime for you. It embodied more than just the holiday season. It could be anytime. Walmart was good; but just like in overall sales, they went up against Amazon.

Doug Garnett
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
4 months 24 days ago

Finally, Amazon gives us a holiday ad that delivers a “residual memory” that is connected to their business. For that reason, the overwhelming win here goes to Amazon. Nothing like reminding us of the reason Amazon exists AND the packages we receive for the bulk of the ad and using the “smile” to sing. It’s a bit of a surprise since Amazon’s ads for their tech hardware have been pretty bad. But kudos to Amazon and their agency.

Walmart? It’s not bad — certainly better than other holiday ads we’ve seen. But they rely on cues too subtle for us to know it’s clearly Walmart doing the talking. And the Walmart box can’t be treated like the Amazon box — it just isn’t well enough known yet.

So a good round — both have strengths. But without question the advantage goes to Amazon on this round.

Lee Kent

While neither piece shows me what the gifts contain, which just might inspire me to want to shop, Amazon did inspire me to want to pick a package and think about it going on the ride of its life. And after all, that is what Amazon is all about. It doesn’t matter what you buy. It’s easy, fun and fast. For my 2 cents.

Seth Nagle

It depends on what you think a commercial should do.

If it should share an important message, then Walmart for three reasons:

  1. Messaging is clear — “free two-day shipping”;
  2. The ad is under 30 seconds and keeps your attention;
  3. The sound/song of Walmart’s commercial seems to be better quality.

If it should provide entertainment, then Amazon for three reasons:

  1. Great idea/twist to replace singing employees with boxes;
  2. Brings you along the logistics journey of your package with unique camera angles;
  3. Utilizes their logo within their messaging AKA great branding.
Cynthia Holcomb

What is truly fascinating is the speed at which Walmart is rebranding itself as modern and current, in a matter of months since Marc Lore came to Walmart. I vote Walmart for “Most Likely to Succeed” in capturing the “new” Walmart customer.

Lee Kent

They didn’t get my vote this year but I’m with you Cynthia. They deserve Most Likely to Succeed thanks to Marc Lore!

W. Frank Dell II

Both commercials promote the logistic side of buying online. This has been an Amazon focus for years, in an effort to be competitive with brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon has a mild Christmas flavor as a piggy back on their core approach. Walmart takes aim at Amazon’s strength but fails to showcase products or range.

Ricardo Belmar

Both spots are great, and this really highlights how tight the “race” between Amazon and Walmart is becoming. I’ll give the nod to Amazon however, because — singing packages, really? How can you not go for that?

Amazon’s ad makes an emotional connection between their logo/brand, the internal processes every order goes through and their mobile app and user experience, all combined with the spirit of gift giving. They successfully show the degree of convenience and satisfaction their business delivers. And the Amazon-branded delivery truck at the end doesn’t hurt to reinforce the point (who needs UPS or FedEx?). The result is a great holiday ad that will have all of us remembering it in the months to come.

Walmart is close behind in highlighting a key selling point — free two-day shipping without a subscription — without seeming too commercial and keeping with the spirit of the holidays in a short 30-second spot. Well done, but I expect we’ll remember the Amazon spot more than the Walmart one weeks from now.

Mohamed Amer

Wow, these two commercials do very well for their respective brand. If forced to choose, I’d give Amazon a win by a nose — barely.

Amazon’s commercial connects emotionally as it humanizes the supply chain as it fulfills your hopes and dreams. Walmart’s commercial reminds you of the benefits (free shipping, no membership) as you invite love into your heart and home this Christmas season. Both spots are appropriate for their customer base and strategy. Amazon validates its leading position in ecommerce by showing why technology matters and Walmart emphasizes value and convenience.

Well done!

Craig Sundstrom

I’ll go with the Walmart spot, largely because (1) it got right to the point, and (2) it actually gave out useful info. I’ll give the Amazon spot credit for imagery. Neither spot, though, really touched the “Wow!” factor in me.

(And a side note: I believe George meant to say “when, not if, Amazon will eventually account for half of all ONLINE purchases,” not “all purchases”…unless he’s looking at next, year, of course.)

Shep Hyken

Both companies created great commercials. To share my opinion would be sharing … just an opinion. The numbers and sales will tell. Both understand what their “audience” of customers want and expect. The goal of these spots are to connect with the customers that already love them (that’s validation) and appeal to those thinking about doing business with them.

Jeff Miller
Both commercials are pretty solid and do a good job of communicating a real marketing message with great songs. I do like how Amazon tried to breathe some life into the lifeless brown box and connect the logo to a smile. My critique for Amazon is that through the visuals especially in the warehouse that they are inadvertently pushing the criticism that Amazon is “killing jobs.” It’s a bit of a meta criticism and not sure someone seeing this on TV would even notice, but it did stand out to me the lack of people in this chain from order on the phone to happy girl at the end. Empty tech-filled warehouses and not happy people. Walmart’s commercial has a nice tone and connects to the spirit of the holidays, but up until the end when they connect the visuals to free 2 day shipping and show the blue box you could mistake this commercial for any holiday commercial from any brand in the last 10 years. Could be anyone from TJ Maxx to Kohl’s… Read more »
Kai Clarke

With both of these retailers, their holiday “lift” in sales will not be attributed to a commercial, but to how aggressively they position their products, and how easily it is for consumers to find these. Amazon is generally lower in price (even by the small amount quoted in the article), and has superior software for a smarter, faster online presence. Walmart needs to match prices and get a better “shopper” app (and then push downloads of this).

"Amazon focuses on convenience and spreading joy. The singing packages don’t hurt."
"Wow, these two commercials do very well for their respective brand. If forced to choose, I’d give Amazon a win by a nose — barely."
"What is truly fascinating is the speed at which Walmart is rebranding itself as modern and current, in a matter of months since Marc Lore..."

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