Walmart Is Out To Change Its Story With New Ads

Posted by: David Kiley on September 13, 2007

Walmart, in its first work from The Martin Agency of Richmond, Va., is changing its slogan from “Always Low Prices,” to “Save Money. Live Better.”

Walmart executives are saying that the new line is not just a slogan, but a four word mission statement for the retailer.

The new work features 30-second TV spots running day and night and on four fall-season premieres — “Dancing with the Stars,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Ugly Betty” — plus episodes this week of other prime-time shows.

It’s an interesting new line, written at a time when there is so much discussion about whether Walmart is good or bad for the country. We are amidst a crisis of confidence in anything coming to the U.S. from China—food, toys, clothes, etc. If you stripped goods made in china from the racks of Walmart, you could putt a golfball from one end of the store to the other without hitting anything. Too, at a time when so many workers are losing healthcare coverage to layoffs and off-shoring, Walmart is the poster brand for limiting the number of employees who qualify for healthcare coverage.

“Always Low Prices,” was always a benign descriptive slogan that befitted the brand, the store and the mission. The addition of “Live Better,” is obviously meant as a deal closer, conveying to the consumer, who may or may not be conflicted about shopping at Walmart, what they get out of those low prices. Ads to follow will, among other scenes, show what people can do with the $2,500 a year, or so, they save by shopping at Walmart, according to a study done by Global Insight.
There is plenty of psychology at work here. Bashing Walmart for turning small towns into ghost-towns and contributing exponentially to the trade imbalance with China and India has become almost cliche. And as former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich has pointed out:
“Wal-Mart may have perfected this technique, but you can find it almost everywhere these days. Corporations are in fierce competition to get and keep customers, so they pass the bulk of their cost cuts through to consumers as lower prices. Products are manufactured in China at a fraction of the cost of making them here, and American consumers get great deals. Back-office work, along with computer programming and data crunching, is “off-shored” to India, so our dollars go even further.

“Meanwhile, many of us pressure companies to give us even better bargains. I look on the Internet to find the lowest price I can and buy airline tickets, books, merchandise from just about anywhere with a click of a mouse. Don’t you?”

“The fact is, today’s economy offers us a Faustian bargain: it can give consumers deals largely because it hammers workers and communities.”

In his new book, Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy and Everyday Life (Knopf, 2007), Reich writes: “Condemning Wal-Mart for not giving its employees better pay and health benefits may be emotionally gratifying but has little to do with the forces that have impelled Wal-Mart to keep wages and benefits low and bestow good deals on Wal-Mart’s customers and investors. Wal-Mart, like every other capitalist player, is, as I have emphasized, following the current rules of the game.”

To see what Walmart is about to embark on, look at McDonald’s, a very similar brand to Walmart. I’d be shocked if Martin didn’t draw parallels to the fast-fooder in its pitch. McDonald’s a few years ago fell into a dangerous trap of being a company that sells products we like under a brand more people were coming to loathe. McDonald’s sells fries we love, but it was a brand that stood for poor health and childhood obesity. Look at McDonald’s profits and share price lately? McDonald’s has changed the story. It sells the same fries and Big Macs, but the addition of fancy coffee (which is awful by the way), nicer stores and advertising freckled with messaging conveying Mom’s approval to eat at Mickey D’s has brought the brand around.
“Live Better,” reminiscent of Lance Armstrong’s cancer survival “Live Strong” line, is Walmart’s attempt to change the story for consumers. And like McDonald’s, they may succeed. But there will still be some, maybe those night workers who get locked inside the store until their shift is done, for example, who will look up at that Live Better sign, and wonder what it all means. Then, they’ll go to McDonald’s for breakfast.

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Reader Comments

Charles

September 13, 2007 09:55 PM

Walmart's counter to the outcry of injustice is to play to consumers self interest. "YOU are better off. Ignore the harm to our trade deficit, small businesses, and American workers." Walmart does improve the lower class' standard of living, and I think they are trying to point that out to create a better image. However, people shop at Walmart out of necessity so I don't think that changing the opinion of the general public does much good in growing sales of their frequent customers, the lower class.

Ashwin Gunjal

September 14, 2007 07:04 AM

The intent of Walmart, changing its slogan from “Always Low Prices,” to “Save Money. Live Better.”, is no doubt a great move but I suspect the success of this operation.

The new mission of Walmart, “Save Money. Live Better” cannot be met by compromising on quality. Walmart is trying to succeed in its mission by denying healthcare coverage for its employees, which will not hold good in retaining Walmart’s quality work force. Besides, Walmart believes in trading goods made in China at US, which may not be all that compliant by the consumers at US or worldwide. For example, toys made in China contain higher levels of Lead (hazardous substances). Outsourcing data crunching jobs to India may be good. Subsequently, the consumers worldwide do not approve products made in China generally due to its varying quality standards.

Christine

September 14, 2007 09:09 PM

That slogan/tagline is awful. And i bet they paid a real lot for it. tsk.

Alex

October 10, 2007 06:59 PM

“Save Money. Live Better.”


Live Better? Live Better???
It brings up a picture of all the workers (men, women and children)in China who are NOT LIVING ANY BETTER.

This advertising slogan insults me.

Alex

October 10, 2007 07:08 PM

“Save Money. Live Better.”


Live Better? Live Better???
It brings up a picture of all the workers (men, women and children)in China who are NOT LIVING ANY BETTER.

This advertising slogan insults me.

Dirty Harry

October 21, 2007 12:18 PM

No, Wal-Mart isn't playing by the rules (what rules anyway?). When Sam was alive the company touted the number of American jobs were saved or created by shopping at Wal-Mart. Not anymore.

The cheap prices WM is getting from China isn't going to the customers (have you checked out how high WM has raised prices lately?), they're going to the big wigs...

Mike

February 12, 2008 07:13 PM

I really can't get over all the Wal-Mart bashing going on here. I am an associate of Wal-Mart, Dpt Manager actualy, and my benefits and pay are actualy really good. I get a quarterly bonus every 3 months, usualy about 220-500 of course based on sales, 401k, stock options, health benefits, and a double digit hourly pay. People who have just started with the comany also are getting all of this. So yes, SAVE MONEY, LIVE BETTER is indeed a great tagline! What Wal-Mart teaches all of us is that what matters most in life is living better, and to do that we must save every nickel and dime possible. I'm quite impressed with our company and I have strong faith in our future!

Ranjit Mathoda

March 21, 2008 12:28 PM

You may find my post "Is Walmart really more evil than Google?" interesting: http://mathoda.com/archives/184

Ray

July 2, 2008 06:02 PM

I am also an associate of Wal-Mart in one of their distribution centers. Wal-Mart like most other Corporations are going to do all they can legally get away with. However I would like to point out pros and cons of Wal-mart.
Cons:
1. Service at stores is terrible. I.E. try getting meat sliced at the deli.
2. Crowded stores. Not Peaceful.
3. Single digit hourly wages.
4. They write up employees for all kinds of things at distribution center. I.E. If you drive past a piece of paper on the floor you could be written up ( rules always change) Any mistake you make could be a write up.
5. Always out of key items.
6. They sell cheap plastic Chinese crap. Why plastic? Its cheap and ships cheap.
7. They sell clothes from sweat shops in China.
8. Poor grocery layout. Too much walking for elderly.
9. Never enough cashiers open. Why build 50 checkout counters and only use four at at time? (Probably getting ready for the mark)
10. Their Christmas bonus is an extra 10% off of one item at the store of their choosing. So if I can only afford a $200.00 item thats a 20 bonus. Thats miserly.
11. Poor fresh vegatable selection and little if any organic veggies and fruits plus no health foods.
12. Confuse employees with multiple heathcare plans of which none are any good.

Pro's
1. Cheapest groceries.
2. Open 24 hours.
3. Now offer discount on vegatables.
4. Many locations.
5. Offer a "living wage" for employees at distribution center who are "single". Must not like single with no kids.
6. Offer 401k and stock purchase plan.
7. Starting to purchase locally produced frozen and fresh food.

There you have it.

Justin

October 21, 2008 11:27 PM

I just have to respond to what "Dirty Harry" said about Walmart raising its prices. First off, Harry, are you a freaking IDIOT? Everything is raising in price nowadays! It's inevitable that Walmart will be forced to raise prices, along with EVERY OTHER STORE nationwide! And not just nationwide, but worldwide as well. I just had to point this out. What an idiot....

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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