Walmart's critics have beaten up on the company for a lot of things over the years — its environmental policies, the treatment of its female employees, corporate donations to conservative political groups. But now Walmart, apparently, has gone too far by advertising that it sells good steaks.
The chain was critiqued recently by a Phoenix-based blogger, for example, for "mak[ing] it appear" that diners of an upscale local restaurant, El Chorro, "were saying things about Walmart steaks like, 'It was one of the best filets I've ever had.'"
Such grilling aside, from Walmart's point of view, the marketing campaign to spread the work for its upgraded USDA Choice steaks has worked well. "It's been pretty amazing," Walmart CMO Stephen Quinn told Ad Age. "This one has really had a big impact so far."
Quinn added that Walmart took a page for the new campaign out of Folger's iconic advertising effort of 30 years ago when the brand "changed the coffee in this five-star restaurant." He said "it's inherently a social and local idea, because we've gone to these local steakhouses that are kind of iconic in their regions and really brought it to life, this notion of switching out steaks."
Walmart will be doing more of the same this summer, with its "Steak-Over" tour (tagline: "We've given our steaks a steak-over") hitting steakhouses in urban markets such as Chicago, above, county fairs (where it might also alert locals to its sustainable farming initiative), and other venues where steak-lovers can be found.
And in Canada, Walmart is taking on homegrown grocery competitors such as Loblaws by adding Angus steaks to all its superstores and sending its Angus Steakhouse Select truck on a cross-country tour this summer. "Our Angus steaks are produced from Angus cattle, a breed recognized for its high quality," said Jose Duarte, director of merchandising for meat and deli at Walmart Canada, in a press release.
If Walmart's recent track record is any indication, the campaign may just do a lot for sales of steaks at a chain that isn't traditionally associated with fine, expensive meats. After all, Walmart's same-store sales rose by 2.6 percent in the first quarter during a continued difficult U.S. economic environment; after a couple of rocky years for the chain's U.S. performance, including a flip-flop on its merchandising strategy; and even at a time when the New York Times was revealing the company's bribery scandal in Mexico.
Below, Walmart VP of Meat (his actual title) Scott Neal pitches the Steak-Over as part of a Facebook/YouTube outreach that highlight a money-back guarantee for the pricier cut of meat: