Wal-Mart's figures may be slightly off, but its strategy seems sound. Amid all the beer and truck commercials in NFL telecasts, it is weaving in some female-oriented creative -- figuring that women are fans, too, and those spots may resonate with them, in part because they may stick out.
At a Wal-Mart investor gathering last week, CMO Stephen Quinn said half the NFL audience is women. Yet, he said, "if you look at the ads (in the games), it doesn't look like half the ads are targeted to those women."
Using just NBC's "Sunday Night Football" as a sample, only about one-third of the viewers in the key 18-to-49 demo are female, but the 2.9 million average is still a hefty number. Also consider that those prime-time games compete against "Desperate Housewives" on ABC, which likely siphons some female viewers away.
The retailer is airing a spot that plugs the lower costs of the comfort food many eat while watching a game. It features a kid awakening with a football helmet on, and culminates with mom joining the family on the couch to watch the blocking and tackling. "Game time costs less at Wal-Mart," she says in the voiceover.
Wal-Mart has a separate "Game Time is Family Time" tag that it also employs for promotions.
The company has run female-targeted football spots for several years. And figures from TNS Media Intelligence show it spent $16 million in NFL telecasts last season. Figures are not yet available for the current one that began last month.
A commitment to the NFL is one vehicle that Quinn indicated Wal-Mart has used to upgrade its brand perception. But in general, results are not just attributed to spending more.
"A lot of this improvement came through better media planning, through better partnerships, through better precision and focus through our marketing-mix modeling," Quinn said.
He also said Wal-Mart will make an increasingly aggressive push into digital marketing, where "we intend to be dominant."
This week also brought a new Facebook initiative, while Quinn cited partnerships with Yahoo and Google as beachheads.