Wal-Mart to Demote ‘Smiley’ in New Marketing Strategy

New York City, The grinning yellow “Smiley” icon that has been the centerpiece of Wal-Mart Stores’ "always low prices" advertising for the past 11 years is being demoted in favor of actors and celebrities who will promote products rather than focus on low prices. The Wall Street Journal reported that in a sweeping overhaul of its mass advertising in the past year, Wal-Mart and its two ad agencies, Bernstein-Rein Advertising Inc. and Omnicom's GSD&M, are looking to motivate customers to shop for more than just basic goods. The discounter wants to spur more sales of high-margin general merchandise to boost its sluggish growth in same-store sales. Wal-Mart's new ad strategy is to appeal to shoppers' interest in an intriguing yet calm shopping environment rather than sending Smiley careening across their television screens slashing prices on products. Smiley "was a character that we dressed up, and we have tried to move from that to an emotion, a feeling," John Fleming, Wal-Mart's chief marketing officer, told The Wall Street Journal. “We'll see how it goes and evaluate it."

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