After identifying the college market as an untapped source of new customers, Wal-Mart decided to target that audience through a medium it had not tried in the past — interactive CD-ROMs.
“We realized that our advertising messages weren't directed at college-age people either through print or broadcast,” said Melissa Berryhill, spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, AR. “We had received an interactive CD several years ago, and later we began to think about the idea of utilizing this type of vehicle to reach the college-age market.”
The CD-ROM that Wal-Mart executives had seen was produced by Tag Digital Media, a direct marketing company that specializes in CD and DVD-based marketing campaigns.
Previously, Wal-Mart only had tried to reach a college audience directly through insertion of its monthly circular into some campus newspapers, she said, and it never had targeted the audience with unique content or messaging.
After reviewing its options, the Wal-Mart marketing team partnered with Tag Digital to produce a CD-ROM aimed at college students.
Wal-Mart thought that the most relevant content for the college audience was new music, movies and video games, and included information about several of each on the CD.
The CD contained trailers for movies including “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” “Daredevil,” “Just Married,” “Legally Blonde 2” and “Bringing Down the House” as well as video games such as True Crime: Streets of L.A., Madden NFL 2004, NBA Live 2004 and Beyond Good & Evil. It also included several full-length music videos and MP3s featuring artists such as Maroon 5, Coldplay, Norah Jones and Ben Harper.
“The goal was to positively influence the attitudes of college-age people when thinking about Wal-Mart,” Berryhill said. “We wanted them to think of Wal-Mart when they thought of buying music, movies and video games.”
The CD also contained information about Wal-Mart locations and products and services like the company's Internet services, online photo services, travel services, phone cards and textbooks.
Tag Digital handled creative design and production of the CDs. The firm strongly believes that CDs have an edge over conventional direct mail.
“Overall, CD campaigns consistently outperform in the marketplace in terms of response rates and brand impressions,” said William Huckestein, president of Tag Digital Media, San Diego. “In addition to being a ubiquitous medium, CDs carry a higher value association, which is due to the CD's ability to convey rich multimedia without bandwidth limitations.”
Through Tag Digital's partnership with print production firm RR Donnelley and Sons, the CDs were inserted into RR Donnelley's Zip Strip Disc Mailer and sent out.
More than 1 million CDs went in each of two drops in April and August. They were distributed at 500 to 600 U.S. colleges as inserts into college newspapers as well as delivered directly to dormitories and fraternity and sorority houses in cooperation with the schools.
“The colleges were chosen based on which ones could insert the piece into their newspaper or would allow it to be distributed through their dormitories or fraternities/sororities,” Berryhill said. No other targeting mechanisms were used.
To track response to the CD, a voluntary opt-in function was included. It asked students for their e-mail address, ZIP code, age, computer type and gender as well as questions specific to their attitudes about the CD and Wal-Mart in general. There also was an option to receive Wal-Mart online newsletters.
Berryhill said that response has been higher than conventional direct mail but would not elaborate. She would not discuss the campaign's cost, either. Wal-Mart is in the analysis phase of the campaign, Berryhill said, and no decision has been made about using CD-ROMs in the future.