A country music video by singer Danny Griego touts the appeal of ‘Wal-Mart Girls.’ The video is produced by Miramonte Records, Mr. Griego’s recording label which purchased television airtime to air a :30 second version of the video during the Independence Bowl last week (a major U.S. college football match).
The spot was intended to boost the career of Danny Griego but also explicitly to influence Wal-Mart to carry and promote the album and the rest of Miramonte’s artists. AdAge reports:
But the blitz also aims to grab the attention of another audience: Wal-Mart’s buyers. Miramonte is looking to gain distribution in the chain, said Jim Lecrone, manager of Miramonte, a division of Red Truck Entertainment based in Scottsdale, Ariz. “They are one of the biggest music retailers in the world,” he said.
In addition to the limited television advertising, the spot will be aired in movie theaters in the American Southwest.
This ad signals a new development in the most interesting marketing story of the past year – consumer-generated media. That trend has turned into a craze, causing stalwarts like Time Magazine to abandon editorial discretion and declare ‘you’ (meaning everyone) the Person of the Year. Time is reflecting the increasingly two-way nature of the interchange between brands and consumers and particularly the dramatic powershift caused by YouTube, MySpace and other social media sites online. A strong current within this trend has been the use of social media sites by brands to deliver a message to consumers – with the labor of the consumers themselves. Smirnoff did an excellent job of this with Tea Partay (our review here) which they posted on an obscure website and allowed consumers to discover and bring to YouTube. The video was viewed over two million times with no distribution cost to Smirnoff and considerable media attention.
This combination of clever-PR with consumer-generated buzz through different streams of media has helped a few very clever brands leverage their advertising budgets beyond all expectations while it has frustrated many more. Miramonte Records puts a distinctly different spin on this by targeting its guerilla campaign at a distributor (Wal-Mart). Distribution is certainly the name of the game for these small labels and an underground campaign that gets Wal-Marts attention could be hugely profitable to Miramonte as well as Dannny Grieco.
The video itself makes a good case for Wal-Mart girls – if one moves past the stripper-esque images of the girls themselves and listens to the lyrics (a painful task for this advertising blog which is not naturally a fan of country music). Danny Grieco is touting Wal-Mart girls because they have the right values – the same values that the chain appears to hold dear. On the surface at least, that alignment of brand values would make Grieco and Miramonte a good fit for Wal-Mart.
In spite of the cleverness, we don’t think this pitch will work on Wal-Mart for two reasons. First is the Bentonville chain’s inherent conservatism (not selling Playboy or some other less provocative men’s magazines, censoring book covers) which this music video openly flouts. We think this is a mistake by Wal-Mart – although it certainly should remain family-oriented, Wal-Mart’s approach has been heavy-handed and has caused more problems than it has solved.
More importantly, Miramonte Manager Jim Lecrone violated the #1 rule of clever PR by explaining his strategy to the media. Doing something unusual and subversive to attract Wal-Mart’s attention is one thing. Talking about it to the press is quite another and again directly contradicts Wal-Mart culture. If the ‘Girls of Wal-Mart’ video is wildly successful, it may not matter. But Miramonte might have lost the opportunity to slide into Wal-Mart by stealth and charm by blowing its cover.
Branding Bottom Line:
Miramonte kisses and tells. What will Wal-Mart do?