Viewers of Pressure Cooker, the new show on W Network that sees Canadian home cooks compete in a race to make a dish with a limited selection of ingredients, will likely have noticed a familiar brand engrained into the show.
Walmart’s Great Value brand can be spotted in the show’s set, which features a Great Value-branded pantry filled with food from the private brand. As lead broadcast and grocery sponsor of the weekly show, Walmart Canada also provides the fresh food on a conveyor belt that passes along items contestants can choose to make their meals in a tight timeframe.
The winners of each episode get one year’s worth of fresh groceries from Walmart SuperCentres.
READ: Walmart adds to private label line
One of Walmart Canada’s main objectives with the sponsorship was to reinforce in Canadians’ minds that Walmart is truly a destination for fresh food, says Brian Ettkin, Walmart Canada’s brand manager of private brands, food and consumables. While Walmart has put a bigger focus on its fresh offering over the past several years, not all Canadians think of it to make their weekly grocery trip. The company wanted to send the message that “Walmart really is serious about being a grocery destination,” says Ettkin.
He said the other big objective with sponsoring the show was to give Canadians a better understanding of what the Great Value brand is all about. “We want people to feel confident that Great Value is just as good as the national brand for them” and that it can be used in everyday cooking situations, says Ettkin.
READ: Walmart targets new moms with online baby registry
Pressure Cooker, which premiered on Oct. 7, addresses the age-old kitchen conundrum of putting together a meal with a scarce amount of ingredients around the kitchen. Each episode sees a regular Canadian partnered up with a celebrity guest chef that coaches them through their speedy meal preparation process. “The show concept seemed really accessible and relatable to our target customer,” says Ettkin. Those target customers, he added, are busy moms looking to save money “so they can have those better moments in their lives.”
One of the things that was important with Walmart Canada when deciding to sign on as a sponsor—something it’s never done with a show in this way before, says Ettkin—was ensuring the ingredients used Pressure Cooker are all available at a Walmart SuperCentre. It was also key that the pantry of ingredients that supplement the main ingredients used are all Great Value.
READ: Walmart joins half your plate campaign
While this type of sponsorship is new territory for Walmart Canada, Ettkin says the initial results have been very positive. For now, it’s keeping tabs on the show’s ratings to measure ROI on the sponsorship, and has plans over the course of the season to do Ipsos tracking to do a more detailed survey to determine whether people’s perceptions about fresh grocery at Walmart or Great Value changed.
Does he foresee the company signing on for any similar sponsorships down the road? “We’ll wait to see how the whole season plays out to make sure it’s reaching the customer the way we want it to and representing our brand the way we want it to.”
As the grocery business in Canada grows even fiercer, Ettkin acknowledges that “certainly the pie, as it were, isn’t getting any bigger.” Walmart Canada is keenly aware that traditional Canadian retailers have upped their game, he says, referencing Loblaw’s current “Crave More” campaign. The company is also very mindful of retailers, such as Costco, that have their own value proposition, and even non-traditional entrants into the marketplace, like Amazon, getting into fresh grocery. “We have to be positioned as well to make sure we’re still meeting the needs of our customers,” he says.
No better time, then, to give Walmart Canada’s fresh offering and its Great Value brand its closeup on TV.