Wal-Mart rolled out a new slogan last week developed by its new agency, The Martin Agency â€”â€Save Money. Live Betterâ€â€”after having used â€œAlways low pricesâ€ and the smiley for 19 years. And thankfully, it seems to be backing way off recent attempts to portray its stores as more upscale [that seemed like a major attempt at an illusion even David Blaine couldn't pull off]. Instead, promoting an image of what middle-class families can achieve by saving money at the registers. According to a quoted study [sponsored by Wal-Mart] done by Global Insight, it showed the average family saved $2,500 a year by shopping at Wal-Mart.
â€œLive Better,â€ reminiscent of Lance Armstrongâ€™s cancer survival â€œLive Strongâ€ line, is Wal-Martâ€™s attempt to change the story for consumers. Wal-Mart executives are saying that the new line is not just a slogan, but a four word mission statement for the retailer.
The new TV campaign is well produced, insightful and does incorporate much more of a warm and fuzzy emotional tone into its advertising than in the past, in an attempt to boost sagging sales. However, the move from fairly benign messaging [i.e. Always low prices] to putting the consumer at the center with the new line that adds “live better” [the benefit of saving money on everyday items] is actually a bold move [despite the rather soft sell in the commercials].
Think about it…publicly trashing and bashing Wal-Mart for turning small towns into ghost-towns, questionable hiring and benefits practices and contributing exponentially to the trade imbalance with China has damn near become a national sport — not to mention the nauseating coverage of Roehm-gate in the advertising industry. Yet, we’ve all felt fairly far removed from how they do business and thusly felt justified in commenting on their competitive, aggressive and sometimes questionable business practices. Confronting the consumer head on in the positioning with the fact they are the real beneficiary of the low prices, and the reason Wal-mart does what it does the way it does it, makes the consumer take some responsibility — whether they want it or not.
Focusing on the consumer as the beneficiary forces a change in the tenor of potential Wal-Mart bashing. It has to, because it’s no longer them focused, but us. And as much as I didn’t want to like the campaign [because it's more fun to bash Wal-Mart], I think it’s right on the mark from a marketing perspective. The whole position centers on the very simple premise: consumers want/demand a good deal…a low price for the things we need to buy so we can spend our hard-earned money on other things.
While done with a soft touch, the campaign gets at the hypocrisy in the anti-Wal-Mart sentiment. The fact is, I look on the Internet to find the lowest price I can when I buy airline tickets, book hotel rooms, merchandise and more. I buy from just about anyone anywhere with a click of a mouse. Don’t you? Do I look into the business practices of all the companies I buy from? No. Do you?