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Interesting piece in Advertising Age, which looks at the decision by Wal-Mart to replace its longtime advertising slogan, “Always Low Prices,” with a new catchphrase designed to appeal more to affluent shoppers: “Save Money. Live Better.”

According to the story, “An enormously similar tagline, ‘Save More. Live Better,’ had previously been pitched by GSD&M, Wal-Mart's longtime shop which pulled out of the review. Check that. GSD&M, recently rebranded GSD&M Idea City, actually pulled out of the Wal-Mart re-review, the do-over called after the ginormous retailer nullified its initial decision to award its $570 million account to DraftFCB. Wal-Mart executives felt that Julie Roehm, the marketer running the review, had gotten too close to DraftFCB executives during the search, something both sides have repeatedly denied.”

The executives at Idea City say they have no problem with the tagline that was chosen, and Wal-Mart executives say that, in fact, the new slogan has been culled from a statement made by company founder Sam Walton in 1992: “We save people money so they can live better.” This phrase was given to every agency pitching the account, Wal-Mart says, so it is natural that it would have found its way into a number of presentations.

But Ad Age seems unconvinced, at least by the creative effort:

“Just to recap: So Wal-Mart ends up going through two agency reviews, an embarrassing scandal and legal skirmish, only to result in an ad campaign that, while nicely executed, amounted to the excavation of a 15-year-old quote that touts savings and low prices, pretty much the marketing approach used before the review.

Right. No problem here. Just the creative process at work. Carry on.”
KC's View:
Gee, that seems so cynical.

It has been my impression that Wal-Mart’s problems are not so much its advertising campaigns and slogans, but rather its attempts to appeal to a new customer base without alienating its traditional core – which has led to a kind of corporate schizophrenia.

Selling low prices through advertising ought to be the default position, and with good reason.