Walmart Brings Back Smiley Face Mascot, Had Emojis Before Emojis Were Cool

Do you remember Walmart’s ’90s ads featuring the animated smiley face character? According to the company, the character first appeared in stores over 25 years ago, and later as an animated character in TV ads. Perhaps capitalizing on the popularity of emojis, the mega-chain is bringing Smiley back in its marketing after a 10-year absence.


For readers who don’t remember or who never caught the ads when they first blanketed the airwaves, here are a few memorable ones:

As animation became more sophisticated over the 16 years or so of the campaign, so did the ads.

Walmart is holding their annual shareholders’ meeting this week, and alongside that was a gathering of a few thousand employees, roughly one employee at the meeting for every two stores that Walmart has in this country. At the meeting, executives revived the “happy face” marketing and gave speeches about customer service. Oh, and some ordinary store workers played a Family Feud game with executives, hosted by Steve Harvey.

Employees also received special pins to wear on their vests and to bring back to their stores for a colleague.

What does the new version of Smiley say about how shopping has changed? Here’s a new digital ad that Walmart made available. The theme of the TV spots will be similar.

One big difference from the ’90s version, other than the changes in the store’s logo and branding: Walmart merchandise and its low prices pop up out in the real world to solve everyday problems. That’s in contrast to the ’90s version, where Smiley smashes into price signs, scattering numbers on the floor for someone else to clean up while attractive and ethnically diverse customers smile maniacally.

Wal-Mart revives smiley face image for price marketing [AP]
Why the (Smiley) Face? A Chat with Walmart’s CMO [Walmart]

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