Wal-Mart and War

15 Dec 2009

these videos make me humble

these videos make me humble

Reading about this trend of soldier homecoming videos made me think of the Wal-Mart advert in which a boy uses his Santa wish to get snow for his dad in The War.

There are many different responses that one can have to this ad, from loving to hating Wal-Mart, nothing new there. And the ad follows standard beats of contrast and magic, almost like beer spots in the early 90s. Nothing new.

But here is why it caught my eye. This is the first American ad to use the theater of Iraq/Afghanistan as an on-screen location. This is a shift away from treating The War as a risky ‘other’, like The Scottish Play or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. In doing so, Wal-Mart visually acknowledges this now normal, painfully mundane part of American Life that exists for tens of thousands of families. The abstract is made all the more real.

If we are using adverts as a barometer of cultural shifts, and taking a page from Grant McCracken, I think that this Wal-Mart spot and Best-Buy’s Eid ad are two of the most significant moments in 2009.

Neither of these ads break new ground in trends, tech or storytelling. But in different ways, they both signify new nods from Fortune 500 CMOs to heretofore unnamed consumer spaces.