Walmart Unfurls the Red Carpet for Fashion

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Walmart Unfurls the Red Carpet for Fashion

By Patrycja Malinowska - 03/25/2019

An official sponsor of the Academy Awards for the third consecutive year, Walmart zeroed in on the glamour surrounding the Oscars for a marketing campaign that would help establish the retailer as a fashion destination both in stores and online.

The mass merchant tapped six Hollywood stylists — including Julia Roberts’ go-to, Elizabeth Stewart — to curate looks for crew members who work behind the scenes in the film industry. Each look appeared in its own 30-second TV spot debuting during ABC’s broadcast of the Oscars on Feb. 24. The outfits included apparel from Ellen DeGeneres’ Walmart-exclusive EV1 collection, bags and accessories from Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s Walmart-exclusive, online-only Kendall & Kylie line, as well as premium brands from the retailer’s Lord & Taylor partnership.

In stores, four-sided standees activating Walmart's Oscars sponsorship depicted the styled crew members, directing shoppers to "shop the whole crew" in the apparel department and on walmart.com. QR codes on the standee linked to a shoppable Oscars looks showcase. A home page carousel ad and social media updates supported, the latter employing a #WalmartFashion hashtag.

A Walmart spokesperson told Penske Media's Variety that its Oscars investment has paid off both in terms of market cache and exposure: “It’s a cultural moment that allows us to reach a big, engaged audience. Because the Oscars is one of the biggest nights for Hollywood fashion, it was a great moment [this year] to highlight our assortment of quality, on-trend fashion off the red carpet."

Last year, Walmart’s Oscars campaign was instead focused on promoting the retailer's free, two-day shipping and home delivery service. In 2017, Walmart shared stories from diverse Hollywood directors inspired by a receipt itemizing six mundane items.

Fashion Reboot

In the midst of a full-blown fashion reboot, Walmart is following its Oscars effort with a "We Dress America" marketing campaign positioning the retailer as delivering "fashion for all" that has included a mobile push notification, a home page carousel ad, as well as a TV spot in 15- or 30-second cuts and English or Spanish versions. (See video below.)

Walmart continues actively hunting for suppliers that can elevate its assortment. In addition to the recent additions of EV1 and Kendall & Kylie, the retailer just last month launched a size-inclusive denim line with actress Sofia Vergara available on walmart.com. The initial collection comprises nearly 100 apparel items ranging from jeans to denim jackets as well as fashion tops and graphic T-shirts. A home page carousel ad supported at launch, linking to a dedicated brand showcase. Social media updates from the star and media coverage from outlets like PopSugar supported.

The retailer last year also:

  • introduced a specialty shopping destination for fashion on walmart.com comprising two different shops — “everyday brands” for affordable, on-trend items and “premium brands” from Lord & Taylor — as well as editorial elements to inspire browsing.
  • acquired Bare Necessities, a specialty retailer focused on women’s fashion that offers more than 100,000 SKUs from more than 160 brands, including an extensive assortment of bras, swimwear, shapewear and sleepwear.
  • acquired Eloquii, a digital-native brand focused on women’s fashion specifically designed for women size 14 and up. 
  • launched four new apparel private brands for women, men and kids: Time and Tru, Terra & Sky, Wonder Nation and George.
  • relaxed the dress code for its employees. “Letting people bring their whole selves to work just makes good sense for the business, for our people — and for fashion,” Karisa Sprague, senior vice president, Walmart U.S. Field People, wrote in a corporate blog post announcing the change.
  • supported a project at Texas Tech University through the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund where researchers are using a foam indigo dyeing technique that could be a game changer for denim manufacturers by lowering costs and reducing environmental impacts.

Store apparel departments have also been updated with improved fitting rooms as well as translite signage to further elevate the category in stores.

NOTE: Path to Purchase Institute members can view more related articles and images, and access a full Walmart profile, at p2pi.org