Walmart Consolidates Its U.S. Advertising Business With Publicis Groupe

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Walmart, one of America’s largest advertisers, decided this month to consolidate its U.S. advertising and in-store creative work with a newly launched unit of Publicis Groupe in a move that the latter describes as “a new strategic relationship that will give Walmart unfettered access to all of Publicis Groupe’s agencies and resources.”

The Martin Agency has been the retail chain’s creative agency of record since 2007. A spokesperson confirmed to Adweek today that the relationship between agency and client will soon end, writing, “As of September, we will no longer be working with Walmart on their advertising. We’ve worked with them since 2007 and are very proud of the work we’ve done together and wish them the best.”

A Publicis press release announcing the win states that the relationship, which is “not exclusive” and went into effect on July 1, will initially apply to U.S.-based work but will also include “resources outside of marketing, including capabilities to support corporate reputation and technology that builds relationships with customers.”

“Our ambition globally is to make every day easier for busy families, and having
best-in-class marketing is critical to achieving that goal,” said Walmart Stores, Inc. president and CEO Doug McMillon in a statement, adding, “This relationship with
Publicis Groupe will help us think and act differently, which will ultimately enable us
to serve our customers even better.”

The release states that Publicis Communications chief executive and potential Maurice Levy successor Arthur Sadoun will lead the account. In a statement, Levy himself wrote, “This relationship is the direct result of Publicis’ new approach, ‘the Power of One,’ which is designed to deliver end-to end solutions for our clients.” According to this approach, Publicis can now draw resources from all of its various U.S. agencies to work on the Walmart account.

The decision does not appear to have been preceded by a formal creative review, and it did not affect Walmart’s media account, which went from Publicis Groupe’s Mediavest to WPP’s GroupM earlier this year. Mediavest subsequently laid off approximately 80 employees in a related restructuring.

Publicis agency Saatchi & Saatchi has been working on the creative side of the Walmart business since late 2013, when it won a review to become one of the chain’s roster shops. That decision came several months after Andy Murray, founder and former chief executive of the agency’s shopper marketing division Saatchi & Saatchi X, left to join the Arkansas-based retailer as its svp of creative. (Saatchi & Saatchi X has served as Walmart’s primary in-store and shopper marketing agency since 2006.)

A spokesperson for IPG told Adweek today that The Martin Agency’s parent company will continue working with Walmart in some capacity, writing, “Walmart remains a valued IPG client. We’re proud to continue supporting Walmart on a variety of projects.” IPG’s Golin is currently Walmart’s PR agency of record.

Walmart spent nearly one billion dollars on measured media last year, according to Kantar Media.

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