Sam’s Club in Creative Review: As We Foretold

Sam’s Club in Creative Review: As We Foretold

Steve’s breakdown: Over two weeks ago we reported that we thought a creative review was “not far off”. (See post at bottom)

Now, here we are with the creative review announcement.

Ciara Anfield, VP-chief member and marketing officer of Sam’s Club

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BENTONVILLE, AR: Sam’s Club, whose media account is in review, also has placed in review its creative account now handled by VMLY&R, the company confirmed.

The review comes amid strong performance for Walmart’s smaller sibling, with comparable store sales up 10% last quarter, continuing a streak of 11 consecutive quarters of double-digit comp growth for the club store chain.

“As we are continuing on our journey to be a best-in-class marketing organization, we think it’s really important to continue to review the business against our evolving needs,” said Ciara Anfield, VP-chief member and marketing officer of Sam’s Club. “We know our agencies play a big role, and so we’re evaluating our agency support against that to make sure our decisions are in alignment. So there is a creative review in addition to media.”

WPP’s VMLY&R has handled creative for Sam’s Club since last year, appointed under prior chief marketer Tony Rogers, who left the retailer earlier this year. The agency was behind Sam’s Club’s first Super Bowl ad in February and has continued work, in conjunction with Kevin Hart’s production company, on additional Sam’s Club marketing including its new holiday campaign.

VMLY&R will defend the account. “VMLY&R is participating in the review of agencies within the overall ecosystem,” according to a statement from the agency, which said it is “working simultaneously to redefine our role going forward” with Sam’s Club.

Executives of WPP-backed Haworth, which handles media, haven’t responded to calls for comment.

While Sam’s historically has spent heavily on direct mail, which is common for club store rivals Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club as well, it historically spent relatively little on most other media until recently. Its measured spending has increased substantially this year. Sam’s spent $94 million on measured media last year, but stepped up spending considerably to $98 million in the first half of this year, according to Kantar.

That pales alongside Walmart. Overall, the company, including Sam’s, spent $477 million in measured media last year, per Kantar, and $3.1 billion in total advertising, according to the Ad Age Datacenter. Walmart handed its media account to Publicis Groupe last year following a review. With sales of less than $74 billion last year, Sam’s is roughly one-fifth the size of Walmart, with U.S. sales of $393 billion last year.

Shortly after announcing the Super Bowl ad, Rogers announced he was leaving as chief member officer, replaced by Anfield, who became senior VP-chief member and marketing officer, reporting to Kieran Shanahan, newly appointed executive VP and chief growth officer. (Rogers later moved to Keller Williams as chief growth officer.)


$200M Retail Ad Review at Sam’s Club: More to come?


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