So this past week I was able to participate in the "Walmart Shopping Cart Challenge".
Through an unlikely chain of events, I heard about this opportunity at work.
A casting agent contacted our marketing director. I don't know if they are friends or what. But my boss's office is across the hall from the marketing director's office, so they are chummy.
Said marketer asked my boss if she had any employees that would be a good fit for this opportunity (Mothers 28-45 years old, not actors or models). "Real Moms" they call it. Apparently there has been a string of commercials like this, but since we don't watch TV, I hadn't seen them!
Anyway, my boss suggested me. I sent in my (very basic) application. The first available date I was the backup mom and was not called in. But this past Tuesday I was the lead mom (but there are 2 lead moms each time they shoot). I was pretty excited. As the date approached and I slowly got more information, I learned that both moms shop, but only one mom is chosen for the commercial.
The premise is- the mom shops at a local grocer competitor, then her items are compared to Walmart prices and the savings are advertised. I was told I could spend up to $250 in groceries and that I would receive a $250 Walmart giftcard for my participation.
So I "pre-shopped" at the competitor store to make my list of items I wanted to purchase while staying in budget. I planned to buy several items I would not usually buy at a grocery only store (like diapers and wipes) and was hoping that would help me be the mom who saved the most and did the commercial.
Then I learned 2 days prior that I could only purchase 40 items. So I re-evaluated my list. Then I learned you can't buy alcohol, cigarettes, prescription drugs or lottery items. No problems there.
When I met the two producers (one local and one corporate rep from Bentonville) Tuesday morning at Starbucks, I found out that we could not buy store brand items or sold-by-weight items. To be fair, we could buy those items, since we get to keep the groceries. BUT- they would not be countable towards the challenge, because for legal reasons, it must be compared against the EXACT same item at Walmart. So it would still be lovely free groceries, but would not help you "win" against the other mom (of course they did not say that, but I knew).
That threw a wrench in the plans. I had not checked to make sure my selected items were sold at Walmart. I had planned to buy 3 family packs (about $20 each) of meat. Especially since I was trying to get as close to $250 as possible but with 40 items or less. Unfortunately they could not go by price per pound. Even if it was the same grade meat. They suggested sticking to things with barcodes if we wanted to make sure the item "counted".
My co-mom (AKA opponent, in my mind) was a little bit older. She told me I would win for sure, because she does not have any babies at home. I thought so too. Surely a case of diapers would better my odds considerably. Formula would have really helped too, but we already use Walmart store brand formula and I wasn't willing to switch Sophia just for the sake of a TV commercial. I think that's a bit beneath me.
So, she went off to shop with one producer and I with another. The competitor shopping is covert. No cameras, just normal shopping. Don't talk about what you're doing, Walmart, Arkansas etc. They give you cash. My producer was a married man, close enough to my age. I imagine we could have appeared to be a couple. He kept track of how many items I was putting in the cart. He put my groceries on the belt in a certain order. I got an extra receipt for them. It was all pretty low-key.
Then we took my purchases to Walmart. I waited in the front a few minutes before the production assistant came to take me to the break room. An associate started scanning my items to see if they were in the Walmart system. I was really disheartened when about half of the first 10 items weren't in the system. My diapers didn't count because Walmart carries them in a 90 count box but the competitor in an 112 count box (for $13 more!). Several of the national brand pre-packaged meats were not in the system. Things were looking dim.
I was then taken to the employee break room where the TV crew and host were. The stylist touched up my makeup and hair just a tiny bit. All the people were very down to earth and I did not feel at all glamorous :) They took headshots of both moms in the produce section. I signed my rights away for them to use my likeness. I made a lunch selection just in case.
I learned this commercial would run for 10 days locally, and would include item prices. Apparently ones without pricing run longer, and sometimes they have you do a radio ad too.
After about an hour, I was dealt my death blow. The other mom had beaten me on savings. I collected my groceries up front, was given my gift card, and went home. I was all done in less than 3 hours.
I must admit my prideful self was a bit deflated. But I think the Lord knew how much I would take pride in that commercial. I've always always dreamed of being "famous". The cool kid. The popular one. Perhaps He knows in his infinite wisdom that I would not do well in that type of life. Or that once in it, I wouldn't be happy. I think of all the young "stars" gone wrong. Hollywood and "the biz" is a corrupt place/life (although there are a few who remain pure).
It's pretty sad to admit that as I was putting away my $230 of free groceries I was not nearly as happy as I should have been. The mom that was chosen actually happens to be a blogger too. And a fairly "big" one by her report. She gets free stuff, free trips and has been in two other commercials for companies she's an affiliate/ambassador for. So I was a bit miffed that she was adding to her fame. Although I put on a happy nonchalant face when they announced I hadn't won and I congratulated the winner, I was really having to tell myself to have those feelings.
Thankfully I did not wallow in self pity too long. By the next day I was over it. After a lot of self talk about it just not being the Lord's plan. And what a blessing the free groceries and gift card were. I have so much to be grateful for, it shouldn't leave room for complaint.
But, I will post a link when the other mom gets the commercial up on her blog, and you can see what might have been! :)