Low Moments in Marketing: Walmart.com’s Fat Girl Costumes

I love ads…

I see ads all the time. I am continuously watching commercials and pre-roll videos, listening to Pandora spots, and viewing online ads and banners. Most of this viewing has more to do with evaluation and inspiration then it does looking to make a purchase decision. I am in marketing, I understand the game that is played everyday with promotions. It is a game I truly enjoy and one I find to be one of the hardest challenges anyone could face.

Most of the time I just view ads and keep my thoughts about the ads internalized. My thoughts generally come out when I am in discussions with people of my own ilk or to myself when I am making my morning commute.

I decided to share some of my thoughts on a variety of ads and create a new series in the blog (a post more than 2 times a quarter would be a start…) called “Low Moments in Marketing” or L-MIM.

Walmart.com’s tasteless choice of words to describe their plus sized costumes.

from Adweek.com

On October 27th, Walmart.com used the term ‘Fat Girl Costumes’ to describe their plus sized costumes available for Halloween. While there are more traditional terms used to describe the larger male costumes (Plus Sized Costumes, etc.), the retail giant decided to use ‘Fat Girl’ to describe the female plus sized costumes.

While this appears to be just a major error in judgement by someone on the Walmart.com team, I think that there were ulterior motives in place. According to the Google Keyword Planner, search volume for [fat girl costume] equals 90 average searches per month. Compare that to [women plus size costume] at 30 searches a month and [woman plus size costume] at 10 searches per month. I think that there might some SEO games happening here.

Obviously, as soon as this gained steam, it was quickly eliminated from Walmart.com and they went on the defensive, trying to save face.

This is quite interesting and one that I feel wasn’t a mistake at all, but an attempt to rank well for a higher trafficked term.

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