$200M Retail Ad Review at Sam’s Club: More to come?

$200M Retail Ad Review at Sam’s Club: More to come?

Steve’s breakdown: It seems Sam’s Club is not using a consultant so contact the client directly. BTW: This review and its timing have us thinking a Creative Review is not far off so might as well start contacting the client about that possibility.

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BENTONVILLE, AR: Sam’s Club, the sibling of giant retailer Walmart, has launched a media agency review, according to people familiar with the matter.

“We continue to push forward to be a best-in-class marketing organization,” a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement. “We know agencies play a big role in that. As our terms end, we’re evaluating our agency support against the evolving needs of our business and to ensure these decisions best serve our members.”

WPP-backed Haworth is the incumbent media agency, according to a person familiar with the matter. WPP’s VMLY&R handles creative. Haworth executives didn’t immediately respond to voicemails for comment. VMLY&R declined to comment. The Sam’s Club spokesman declined to comment on the incumbent but said the review covers two media assignments.

Sam’s Club historically has spent heavily on direct mail and search, which is common for club store rivals Costco Wholesale and BJ’s Wholesale Club as well. But its measured spending has increased substantially this year. Sam’s spent $94 million on measured media last year but already spent $98 million in the first half of this year, according to Kantar.

That pales alongside Walmart. Overall, the company, including Sam’s Club, spent $477 million in measured media last year, per Kantar, and $3.1 billion in total advertising, according to the Ad Age Datacenter.

Walmart handed its media account to Publicis Groupe last year following a review in which Haworth also was the incumbent. With sales of less than $74 billion last year, Sam’s is only a fifth the size of Walmart, with U.S. sales of $393 billion last year.

One big change this year was the first Super Bowl advertising for Sam’s Club, featuring comedian Kevin Hart. The retailer has continued to put paid support on YouTube and Facebook behind video ads featuring Hart, including one in August around a football tailgating theme. Sam’s Club’s membership count hit an all-time high in the second quarter, Walmart reported in August.

Shortly after announcing Sam’s Club’s Super Bowl ad, Tony Rogers announced in February he was leaving as chief member officer, replaced by Ciara Anfield, who became senior VP-chief member and marketing officer, reporting to Kieran Shanahan, newly appointed exec VP and chief growth officer. (Rogers later moved to Keller Williams as chief growth officer.)

Sam’s Club also has made moves on the sell side of media, late last year naming former Walmart Connect executive Lex Josephs to head its Member Access Program retail media business, and adding a new buying platform in conjunction with The Trade Desk.


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