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Walmart Wins Black Friday Marketing with Mean Girls Campaign

Walmart Wins Black Friday Marketing with Mean Girls Campaign

The instrumental to Missy Elliott’s “Pass That Dutch” is blaring through your speakers while Lindsay Lohan is on your screen walking through the halls of North Shore High School. Did you just transport back to the early 2000s?

No, chances are you were just served Walmart’s latest Black Friday ad.

The movie Mean Girls has been a pop culture classic since its release in 2004. Nearly 20 years later, Walmart is capitalizing on the film’s enduring popularity with a Mean Girls-themed Black Friday campaign.

Walmart’s series of ads features five of the film’s original cast members reprising their roles and even includes a cameo from Missy Elliott herself. Instead of the notorious “burn book” featured in the original movie, the Walmart ads are centered around a “deal book” highlighting discounts the retailer is offering this holiday season.

Today we’re breaking down why this campaign is brilliant marketing by Walmart.

Want to sell to millennials? Reference Mean Girls

Mean Girls is a generation-defining film for millennials. This generation was the target demographic for the film when it was initially released, and has since been a mainstay in millennial pop culture.

Since the film is regarded positively by so many members of this generation, it’s the perfect backdrop for nostalgia marketing, which tends to be especially effective for millennials.

Nostalgia marketing leverages familiarity to evoke positive emotions from potential customers. Millennials came of age during a major technological revolution, giving them a unique disposition: an analog childhood and a tech-savvy young adulthood.

This leaves many millennials especially susceptible to nostalgia marketing if it reminds them of “simpler times” before we were all online and Mean Girls debuted during the tail end of that time period.

Selling to millennials is especially important for mega-retailers like Walmart during the holiday season. Millennials are now the largest living group of adults in the U.S. and are expected to be spending more than other generations this holiday season. In other words, if retailers want to bring in holiday sales, they need millennials to buy from them.

Capitalizing on the film’s remake

The campaign adds to the buzzing Mean Girls universe. Walmart’s Black Friday ad dropped one week before the first trailer for the upcoming Mean Girls remake was released, which likely wasn’t a coincidence.

The 2024 film is an on-screen rendition of the Mean Girls musical, and though they aren’t formally connected it’s easy for viewers to associate the Walmart ad with the new film’s promo. In fact, some X users expressed favoritism for the Walmart ads over the trailer for the upcoming film:

While we won’t know the full impact of Walmart’s campaign until Black Friday sales figures start rolling in, so far the campaign has been a well-received conversation starter for the retailer’s customer base.

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