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Special Project

Special Project
From the 11th Annual Shorty Awards

#ReignOn Essence Festival 2018

Entered in Multicultural Community Engagement


"It's handled! – Black Women Everywhere" is a popular t-shirt. Black women are truly boss women – keeping career, kids, spouse, extended family, finances all in order while still finding time for themselves and doing it all with a great sense of style. These women are the epicenter of Walmart's Busy Families target. The Essence Festival in New Orleans offered a unique opportunity to both celebrate and connect with Busy Moms in this segment in a meaningful way.

Walmart's goal is to help consumers live better every day. A suite of app-based services services including, Pickup Today; Free 2-Day Shipping; and

Grocery Pickup, allowed consumers to do just that. Now, you can shop for everything you need, any way you want. The added ease and convenience of the services were designed to overcome barriers, real and perceived, to shopping at Walmart.

The objectives for Essence Festival were simple:

1. Drive awareness of Walmart's omnichannel services

2. Strengthen trust in the Walmart brand

Strategy and Execution

With more than 500,000 attendees, the Essence Festival is one of the nation's largest festivals and a tentpole in many multicultural plans. To the target, Essence Festival has always been "Wakanda Forever!" To stand out as best-in-show at ESSENCE Festival 2018, Walmart needed to start with a memorable, compelling theme to connect with the audience's hearts and minds, no matter where or how they experience Walmart.

For a target whose daily mantra is "level up," empowerment was an opportunistic confluence of brand, target and contextual relevance. How could Walmart bring empowerment to life in a unique way? #ReignOn connected with African-American women on a deeper level via Identity Activation. As a campaign, #ReignOn was designed to show African-American Moms:

We see you. We hear you. We understand You. We respect you.

Black woman are the queens of their households. Royalty is pervasive in African-American culture due to historic influences and religious beliefs. It is the ultimate expression of empowerment and respect. Walmart's app-based services enable every queen to reclaim her day and seamlessly #ReignOn in every way, every day.

At the convention center, the #ReignOn experience was like none other. Walmart's digitally-forward booth (underscoring Walmart's online presence) was visually arresting. Attendees were greeted with larger-than-life images of black queens and messaging of Walmart's app-based services. Programming at the booth supported the theme – empowering and celebrating black women.

The #ReignOn selfie wall drove user-generated content. Attendees received physical crowns and were able to take selfies on the Walmart throne. Social posts using #ReignOn populated the giant social media waterfall at the booth.

The crowns went viral and were seen all over New Orleans. Women wore them as the perfect accessory to dinner. Many wore their crowns on the plane ride home.

Walmart's app-based services were communicated through a variety of games and in-store shopping experiences. Consumers could vie for prizes and learn more about Pickup Today at the Pickup Tower or see who was fastest at the Grocery Pickup arcade game. Those receiving Walmart's festival bag were incentivized to download Walmart's apps and document their entire experience via their social profiles, using #ReignOn.

Walmart leveraged Facebook's location targeting capability to push content directly to local festival goers as well as nearby interested audiences, before, during and after the event.

Walmart amplified a mix of influencer-generated and Walmart-produced content nationally across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to African-Americans and relevant audience segments most likely to be interested, but possibly not attending the event. Both paid and organic content were published across platforms, offering viewers access to buzz-worthy events and behind-the-scenes content found on Walmart's social channels, as well as influencers' social outlets.

This multi-pronged social approach delivered:

- Traffic-driving buzz for Walmart's booth as well as Walmart's product and services as a whole

- Amazing user-generated as well as influencer focused and/or published content

- Real-time content from the floor, inclusive of the app-based services

- Acknowledgement that Walmart sees and values this audience and is committed to helping them to live better


2018 Essence Festival participation was a success. With more than 136.1 million social media impressions, #ReignOn proved its ability to reach the target audience, generate awareness of the app-based services and enhance brand trust.

Earned and social results

- 187 total earned media stories (50% more than 2017)

- More than 136.1 million impressions

- 37.4 million impressions across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (three times more than 2017); this increase can be attributed to an intentional shift from an all-paid, all-Facebook strategy in the prior year's activation to a focus on both paid and organic content across multiple channels for the #ReignOn social execution

- Sentiment was 84% positive

#ReignOn drove awareness of app-based services

- Free 2-Day Shipping: 43% aware, but never used

- Pickup Today: 55% aware, but never used

- Grocery Pickup: 85% aware, but never used

Brand trust

8 out of 10 Essence Festival attendees reported a positive opinion of Walmart. The sponsorship increased attendees' likelihood to consider purchasing from Walmart and recommend the brand's products to others.


Video for #ReignOn Essence Festival 2018

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Dept. W and Bluewater, Walmart


Entry Credits