Teddy’s Christmas pep talk for Walmart

Who: Walmart with Cossette for creative and strategy, and Mindshare for media.

What: The retailer’s Christmas campaign, which brings back the stuffed bear Teddy from its 2018 holiday campaign.

When & Where: The campaign is on TV and digital now through the holidays. There’s a :30 hero spot and two :15s, one about low prices and the other about a more efficient check-out process.

Why: Walmart needed to acknowledge the coronavirus in the room while still being optimistic and positioning itself as source for joy this holiday season.

There’s been a lot of sombre advertising in a very tough year where it felt like life was on hold and many celebratory moments and events were cancelled, said Cossette’s executive creative director, Craig McIntosh. “My kids are asking ‘Is Santa still coming?’ We told them yes, we are going to have a Christmas. It’s kind of given even my wife and I bit of joy. And there’s something for them to look forward to, which they haven’t had all year.”

Walmart wants to encourage that feeling of hopeful anticipation with a campaign that moves past the sombre advertising and delivers a rallying cry to end the year on a more joyful, optimistic note, he said.

How: By bringing back Teddy to deliver that rallying cry. The featured ad, “Joy Begins Here,” opens on an empty store at night. Teddy climbs up to the in-store PA system and proclaims: “Friends I’ve been out there. And the people, they need some holiday cheer.” As he speaks, toys, gifts and Christmas treats come alive and start to gather around Teddy and cheer him on. The ad ends with the super “Joy Begins Here.”

“He’s giving a pep talk,” says McIntosh. Teddy might be talking to the store, but he’s really talking to viewers, encouraging them to strive for a big, happy holiday season. At the end of a tough year, people deserve to buy gifts for loved ones and enjoy festive meals, with the underlying brand message that Walmart can help make it happen because of its affordable prices (see the client quote below).

“This needed to have an optimistic outlook,” said McIntosh. “It really was, ‘If we can come together and collectively will it into being, this is going to be a great holiday. It will happen.”

Why Teddy? “We didn’t set out to say we are going to bring Teddy back. It was one script amongst a bunch of scripts,” said McIntosh. “We landed on it because he has this charm and earnest optimism already… And we wanted someone that you would instantly engage with and care for and want to listen to. It made it feel more natural—strangely—coming from a teddy bear than an associate in a blue vest. There was something more heartwarming about this pep rally coming from him.”

The “Now more than ever” score: 7.5. Clearly this is the underlying theme of the ad, but unlike in this week’s Hudson’s Bay ad, where a main character—in this case Annie Murphy— actually says “more than ever,” the “more-than-everness” here is implied.  

And we quote: “With the holidays looking a bit different this year, many families may need to stretch their dollars even further and we want to make sure that we’re doing our part to make that happen. With our everyday low prices, Walmart helps lessen that pressure, with everything Canadians need at one stop to help simplify the shopping mission and bring joy this season.” —Tammy Sadinsky, vice-president of marketing communications at Walmart Canada.

David Brown