Canadian Wal-Marts trying original animated content to build loyalty, improve customer experience


So sometimes Gerba beats me to the punch even on Canuck stuff … oh the shame.

He picked up a news release about a new content initiative the EK3 (note: a competitor) and ShopCast guys are doing in Wal-Mart Canada, the subject of a presentation next week at the National Retail Federation trade show in New York.

An executive from Wal-Mart Canada, says the news release, will address the National Retail Federation show next week to discuss the company’s use of a new in-store narrowcasting strategy, which revolves around “Lisa,” an animated character designed to build customer loyalty and improve the shopping experience.

Mike Dombrow, Director of Marketing for Wal-Mart Canada Corp., will talk about a marketing program for its products that focuses around a fictional mom named Lisa and her family.

Because Lisa is based on Wal-Mart Canada research, surveys and customer buying data, it is reasoned, the shopper will feel a connection to the character while also tying together other elements of Wal-Mart Canada’s in-store narrowcasting strategies.

“We want to communicate to our customers that we care about their likes, their tendencies and what they are seeking in the shopping experience. Lisa and her family are already helping us do that. We’ve done some digital signage in the past, but that industry is changing about as fast as our customers’ habits and this program will allow us to keep up,” Dombrow said. “We think this innovative program will enhance the Wal-Mart shopping experience while building customer loyalty. We look forward to discussing this unique, innovative merchandising strategy at NRF.”


Lisa “hosted” Wal-Mart Canada’s narrowcasting content in 60 stores during the critical holiday season. ShopCast designed five 30-second holiday-themed “shows” shown on 42- and 48-inch monitors throughout the stores. The animations were featured along with national advertisements and other narrowcasting elements, such as store-specific content and local information.

The news release goes on to say: Initially, the episodes have not endorsed specific brands or included product placements. The “Lisa Family” shows included a storyline in which Lisa’s husband Bob hides holiday gifts and the two oldest children — Jack and Jenn — yearned to find them.

“The most progressive and innovative users of digital signage are realizing its amazing potential as a digital merchandising tool and we are happy Wal-Mart shares our vision for a narrowcasting network,” said Camilla Gergely, Marketing Communications Director for EK3. “This program has begun to build a nationally recognizable character associated with Wal-Mart but at the same time allows for a distinctly local feel within each location.”

Having spent time in my dark, recent past with the ShopCast folks I know their years of field test experience had suggested shoppers wanted someone or thing from the screens to act as a bit of a friendly shopping companion. The Lisa thing (why do I start immediately thinking about Microsoft and Bob???) certainly plays to that, and the ShopCast and Wal-Mart people should be celebrated for thinking outside the box and trying original content that does not involve beauty shots and prices spinning and zipping around screens, screaming for attention.

I am most definitely not a content guy, but I think there’s something in what they are trying. However, I am pretty sure these spots are 30 seconds each, which I think in this or just about any retail environment is waaaaay too long to hold people’s attention. 15 seconds, maybe. I’d make future bits short and sweet, maybe even 5 second vignettes.

The other big challenge to making this or any content offer work is the sheer scale of the Wal-Mart stores. I was in one of the largest yesterday, curious about how the screens looked and worked. They’re big, and hanging down probably as low as can be allowed, but they’re still a little bit lost in those mega-stores.

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2 Comments on “Canadian Wal-Marts trying original animated content to build loyalty, improve customer experience”

  1. Tammy Morris Says:

    The “Lisa” show’s length could give moms the extra 15seconds they need to browse—It is refreshing to see some “new” content.

    As a member of the company involved in the installs we assure you the screens are as low as they can go! They went for strategically placed vs. low enough to hit you in the head-to try to attract eyes.

  2. Caroline Says:

    As a mom of two, I don’t really have time to stop and watch TV when I’m shopping. But the kids like it and so it helps. The glimpses I catch, though, I like. Very funny and clever. Wal-Mart should post the shows online so the family can watch them at home. Even better, they should put them on TV!

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