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December 2009

Walmart's Holiday Ad Tugs At Heartstrings

Whether in Hollywood or in real life, the best stories are those that convey emotion. We might remember a story or movie because it has cool special effects and a star cast, but the ones we really remember evoke something in us that make us feel something - or help connect us to a time when everything was simpler and filled with a sense of magic and wonder. 

Advertising isn't traditionally known as a place that generates the "warm fuzzies", but a few companies are choosing this route as a way to touch customer's hearts during the holiday season.

According to Brandweek, Walmart's holiday ad was voted #1 on the National Retail Federation's annual Shopper's Favourite Holiday Ads survey. The ad is a TV spot where a young boy wishes for snow for his father in Iraq. It's an interesting mix of political commentary, humanity - and carefully crafted promotion that seems to resonate with consumers.

Great brands and stories use emotions to create powerful connecting experiences. Once inside the story, we feel as if we're part of it and tend to empathize with the characters. Their problems become our problems and, in the case of Walmart - the story and message really does affect all of us.

Take a look at the clip to see if the story draws you in. How do the use of emotion and visual elements affect the message of the brand?

To all of my readers....Thank you for your support in 2009. May 2010 bring out the best stories in all of us.



Rewriting The Story Of Brand Tiger

My father was no Tiger Woods, but he did share one thing in common with the golf legend - his passion for women. While my father's story had little in common with Woods, the effect of his actions on what many thought to be the perfect family had similar repercussions.

Which leads me to the inevitable question: Why would someone who seemingly has it all - the perfect family, wife, kids, lifestyle and career - risk it all on a fling?


Scott Bedbury (of Nike and Starbucks fame) said that a great brand is "an emotional connecting point that transcends the product." To Bedbury, a great brand is a "story that's never completely told" - a metaphorical story in essence that's constantly evolving. If this is true, then brand Tiger is a true brand as the plot continues to unfold with new allegations of infidelity appearing on an almost daily basis.

In the world of PR and crisis management, experts know that the best way to face the public in the wake of scandal is to address things head on - and quickly. The fact that Woods has made himself scarce only feeds the tabloid machine and leaves room for future speculation.

Will this type of behaviour and reaction damage brand Tiger and affect his current and future endorsements? Noone knows for sure, but the gaps and inconsistencies in his reaction to the "crisis" leave room for others to rewrite the brand story. It's up to Woods and his team to deal with the situation and present it in the best possible light. If not, fans and the media will take it upon themselves to write (and possibly finish) his brand story - a chance he shouldn't be willing to take.

From a brand perspective, do you think Woods has taken appropriate action to defend his reputation and brand? If a true brand tells a story, then how would you deal with this issue to present the story in the best possible light?