BCN Executive Editor Wesley Brown – Jan. 6, 2022 – Bentonville Sam’s Club, the warehouse subsidiary of Walmart Inc., will partner with Black actor and comedian Kevin Hart next Sunday (Feb. 13) to debut the Arkansas retailer’s first Super Bowl ad, which is expected to reach an estimated 100 million viewers.
Sam’s Club “Like a VIP” ad, starring Hart, will spotlight the warehouse retailer’s Scan & Go app feature that allows its members to bypass the traditional checkout line while shopping in club. Tony Rogers, chief member officer at Arkansas warehouse giant, said Sam’s Club has seen extraordinary growth during the pandemic as ecommerce sales have spiked 27% and the warehouse wholesaler’s membership reached an all-time high in the third quarter. Walmart is expected to report its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2021 earnings on Feb. 17.
“The timing was right for us,” said Rogers of the Super Bowl ad with Hart. “It was time for us to highlight our brand on a bigger stage, and the biggest football game of the year gives us the perfect opportunity to reach an incredibly diverse audience of viewers.”
The new Super Bowl ad will spotlight Hart shopping under the assumption that he’s receiving a VIP experience because of his celebrity status. Unbeknownst to the Die Hart actor, he’s using a service available for all Sam’s Club members with the company’s online app. The 30-second spot will air at the two-minute warning near the end of the game. Sam’s Club will carry the VIP theme into gameday, offering fans and warehouse members a chance to score VIP membership prizes and merchandise, company officials said.
“We’re having a great time with the VIP campaign, and with our partnership with Kevin,” said Rogers. “Sam’s Club is a fun place to shop, and we wanted that to translate in the work that we’re doing with Kevin and in the creative ways we’ll engage with viewers during the game.”
For his part, Hart and his Laugh Out Loud Network worked with Sam’s Club creative agency, VMLY&R, to develop the Super Bowl spot. During the 2021 holiday season, Sam’s Club and Hart’s comedy brand also collaborated to deliver $500,000 in donations and a unique holiday wish to five charitable organizations across the U.S.
Super Bowl viewers: It’s the commercials
Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds (61%) of Super Bowl watchers this year are at least as interested in the ads as in the big game. This is true regardless of age, region, income, or education, including 72% of women that are significantly more likely than men to place as much or more focus on the ads as the game, according to a highly watched annual poll by Haven, a Western Michigan-based marketing and advertising agency.
Even so, fully half (50%) of male viewers agree that the ads are at least as much of a draw as the game itself. Next Sunday’s (Feb. 13) also stands to capture a windfall in viral dividends as viewers of Super Bowl LVI turn to social networks to express their reactions to what they’re watching on the main screen. Seventy-two percent (72%) of US adults plan to interact with others in real time—nearly half of them (47%) on social media.
This year’s Super Bowl ads are also highly likely to invade conversations well beyond the watch party, or even next-day gatherings around a literal or virtual water cooler. And while nearly half of all viewers are planning on social media interactions during the game, that number changes when we look only at adults 18-44. Sixty-two percent (62%) of younger viewers plan to interact on social media, making it their top choice for interaction during the game. And by sharing their in-game reactions online, these highly coveted viewers are giving the ads an extended run of relevancy.
“Super Bowl LVI promises to be a great showcase for advertisers,” stated Bill McKendry, founder and chief creative officer at Haven. “We’ve had two weekends of exciting playoffs with record-breaking viewership. Enthusiasm will continue to build around a matchup already described by one fan on Twitter as ‘a win-win for America.” Ads that can perform in this highly engaged environment will enjoy immediate amplification on social media, and perhaps see the traditional Super Bowl ad “half-life” extended.”
According to this latest study, 80% of US adults plan to watch the Super Bowl compared to around 70% when Haven’s predecessor agency, Hanon McKendry, began polling in 2006. The 61% of viewers who consider the ads to be a driver in their decision to watch the Super Bowl is slightly higher than in previous years.
The annual Haven survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll from Jan. 13-18, among 2,055 adults ages 18 and older. Of that sample, 1,598 plan to watch the Super Bowl.
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