Walmart Gets Inclusive with DeGeneres
Walmart has teamed up with comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres to bring an exclusive denim-focused fashion line to some 2,300 stores.
DeGeneres announced the nearly 60-item initial collection's rollout on her show on Sept. 10. The line includes denim, T-shirts, accessories and footwear. A home page carousel ad plugged the products at launch, linking to a dedicated e-commerce shop that stocks the full assortment. Stores stock limited assortments on custom pallet displays. Social media activity and paid search ads support.
The move brings Walmart closer to its goal of becoming a fashion destination, following the introduction of four new private label apparel lines earlier this year and the formation of an online partnership with Lord & Taylor. It also underscores the retailer's increasingly inclusive strategy.
DeGeneres broke ground when she came out as a lesbian on TV years ago and has amassed a culturally progressive following. "EV1 promotes kindness and love and diversity," she said in a blog post from Walmart.
Notably, when DeGeneres served as JCPenney's spokesperson in 2012, her role was met with outrage by conservative Christian group One Million Moms, which called for a boycott. Yet just a few years later, PetSmart successfully tapped DeGeneres for a multiyear pet lifestyle brand and Nordstrom teamed up with the comedian to sell apparel, footwear and home goods.
"Inclusion should [now] be in corporate strategy focused on driving growth," according to Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis. "That's how we create inclusive cultures to anticipate change, innovate and grow … Organizations are focusing now on recreating growth and must have a mindset of continuous renewal and reinvention to survive."
"We, along with [DeGeneres], wanted to make a line that worked for everyone (EV1)," Walmart said in a press release. "All launch items are priced at $30 or less and are designed to be mixed and matched. The line will also offer a wide range of sizes."
A month after the initial rollout, Walmart is keeping up the excitement and sharing the spotlight with other product categories by introducing "Ellen's List," the first of a monthly showcase of Ellen's "15 favorite things from Walmart."
A home page carousel ad links to October's list, which presents a Clorox Co.'s Burt's Bees kit, a Farberware Licensing Co. pie dish, Circle Glass' Circleware pumpkin beverage dispenser, Tzumi's Pop Solo "Glow" karaoke microphone, Hershey Co. candy in glow-in-the-dark packaging, an EV1 denim jacket and T-shirt, a (now sold out) elephant costume for babies from Rubie's Costume Co., iRobot's Roomba, a Huffy Corp. women's bicycle, Naterra International's Tree Hut scrub, a generic harvest wreath, Starbucks Coffee Co.'s pumpkin spice K-Cups, a tumbler from Walmart-exclusive brand Ozark Trail, and Keurig Dr Pepper's Keurig single-serve coffee maker. Visitors can hover over an image of each item to read a comical comment from DeGeneres explaining why she picked it.
The bottom of the page also presents a large display ad from Hershey that invites visitors to "Get everyone's favorite Halloween candy" and links to a seasonal brand showcase.
A holiday EV1 collection will roll out in December with new denim styles.