Walmart is an official sponsor of the Oscars this year, and the company is launching a campaign during the Oscars telecast that features some of Hollywood’s biggest stylists curating looks for crew members who work behind the scenes in the industry. The six, 30-second spots will debut during the Oscars telecast, airing Feb. 24 on ABC, and the stylists include Julia Roberts’ go-to, Elizabeth Stewart; Ashley Weston, who works with “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman; and Rami Malek’s stylist, Ilaria Urbinati. The looks seen in the commercials will be available to purchase immediately following the show on Walmart.com.
A Walmart spokesperson says the campaign was created to, “celebrate the behind-the-scenes heroes” who work on film sets across the country, while also working to establish Walmart as a fashion destination in stores and online.
While this is the first year that Walmart is acting as an official sponsor, the company has debuted commercials during the Oscars telecast before. Last year’s campaign featured directors Dee Rees, Nancy Meyers, and Melissa McCarthy, who each created a series of short films that ran during the show to promote Walmart’s “Blue Box” free, two-day shipping and home delivery service. The previous year’s campaign featured Antoine Fuqua, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg.
“The Academy Awards not only celebrates achievements in film and entertainment, but fashion and style have contributed to some of the event’s most memorable moments over the years,” says Jerry Daniello, Senior Vice President of Entertainment Brand Solutions at Disney Advertising Sales. “We’re thrilled to have Walmart back as a Proud Sponsor of the 91st Oscars. Year after year, the team continues to deliver entertaining creative, and they’ve been able to showcase the breadth of their brand, through [this] innovative creative.”
Walmart says its investment in the Oscars has paid off both in terms of market cache and exposure. “Each year we’ve partnered with the Oscars, we’ve seen it as an opportunity to create relevancy for our brand,” a Walmart spokesperson said. “It’s a cultural moment that allows us to reach a big, engaged audience. Because the Oscars is one of the biggest nights for Hollywood fashion, it was a great moment [this year] to highlight our assortment of quality, on-trend fashion off the red carpet.”
For Urbinati, who also styles nominee Bradley Cooper, in addition to Malek, participating in the campaign was a chance to not only showcase the behind-the-scenes work done by crew members and stylists, but to also give people at home an insider’s look at how big productions all come together.
“Winning an Academy Award is the highest honor for acting and you’re getting people at the top of their game,” she said. “That’s the show everyone wants to be a part of and it’s got the clout, but not everybody gets to participate. Hopefully by seeing these looks in the commercials and finding them at Walmart, viewers can feel like they’re part of the action and feel like they got styled by one of us, too.”
Walmart’s decision to use stylists in this year’s Oscars campaign comes after a year in which the red carpet was often used as a place of discourse and protest. Last January, dozens of actresses walked the carpet at the Golden Globe Awards wearing black dresses, in a show of solidarity for the “Time’s Up” movement, while others wore #TimesUp pins. While this year’s red carpets haven’t seen the same level of activism, both Urbinati and Tara Swennen, who works with Kristen Stewart and last year’s supporting actress winner, Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”), say it’s been both a challenge and a privilege to have their work tell a larger story beyond sartorial choices and trends.
“I think people have started using fashion as a tool and as a platform, which is really cool,” Swennen said, citing Ellen DeGeneres’s “EV1” Walmart line, which features sweaters and tees inscribed with inspirational words and slogans. “It’s a way not just for celebrities, but for everybody to make a statement, and to inspire not just with the way you look, but with the message your look is conveying.”
The stylists say the Walmart commercial also demonstrates the growing importance of fashion not just for Oscar night, but for elevating an actor’s personal brand and career as a whole.
“I think the red carpet has become a huge part of building an artist’s career,” Urbinati said, citing people like Lupita Nyong’o and Eddie Redmayne, whose bold and memorable fashion choices have helped to push their profile forward. “A lot of our job has always revolved around the question of, ‘How do I make this person look more like a movie star?’”
“There are a lot of eyeballs during a campaign, and politically the stakes [for us] are very high,” Swennan added. “There are a lot of people who have made their careers because of what they’ve done on the red carpet.”
The Oscars air on Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on ABC. The Walmart spots will be scattered throughout the evening’s broadcast, and will also appear on Walmart.com.
Other stylists featured in the campaign are Michael Fisher and Jeanne Yang, and crew members highlighted alongside the stylists include a wardrobe assistant, stunt coordinator, set caterer, voice actress, and key grip.
In addition to DeGeneres’ “EV1” collection, the cast was also styled with bags and accessories from Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s “Kendall & Kylie” line, as well as pieces from some of Walmart.com’s new collection of premium brands. Walmart is also continuing its fashion partnerships beyond the Oscars. The company announced this month that it was launching a size-inclusive denim collection with “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara (see the full collection here).
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