Walmart Oscars Ads Validate Red Carpet Styling, Says George Clooney's Stylist
“Being a stylist has been out there in the universe as a job. Now I think people know that we’re not just shoppers, but understand that we create the way in which things are put together," said stylist Jeanne Yang.
Walmart is betting big on highlighting Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes players and the relevance that celebrity stylists now have with the American mass consumer. Consider a campaign the retail giant ran on Oscar Sunday. Walmart presented a different take on the typically glamorous red carpet moments synonymous with the Oscars, running ads on television and across digital and social media that featured people working behind the scenes in Hollywood dressed by six major celebrity stylists.
“Being a stylist has been out there in the universe as a job,” stylist Jeanne Yang (who participated in the campaign and dresses Jason Momoa, Alfonso Cuarón, Robert Downey Jr. and George Clooney) told The Hollywood Reporter. “Now I think people know that we’re not just shoppers, but understand that we create the way in which things are put together.”
In the ads, a voice actress, wardrobe assistant, set caterer, stunt coordinator, key grip and production assistant were styled in clothes that suited their professional life by Yang, Elizabeth Stewart (Cate Blanchett, Julia Roberts and Viola Davis), Ilaria Urbinati (Bradley Cooper and Rami Malek), Ashley Weston (Chadwick Boseman and Darren Criss), Tara Swennen (Kristen Stewart and Matthew McConaughey) and Michael Fisher (Hugh Jackman and Adam Driver). Each stylist also wore head-to-toe looks from Walmart.
This meant flared denim and a graphic T-shirt, punctuated with a studded leather belt for the voice actress, or a khaki utility jacket over a red polo shirt for the key grip. The outfits were practical and attainable for the everyday consumer, of course, but the campaign also sent a strong message that celebrity styling as a profession and the people who do it, are well known enough to resonate with a mass audience. To see and shop all the looks, click here.
The featured stylists were chosen by both Walmart and The Wall Group, the agency that represents all of the stylists (and arguably many big-name stylists) and according to Amy Sabel, director of styling at The Wall Group who worked on the Walmart deal, were selected based on who the brand felt spoke to their audience and values.
“This is the third year we’ve sponsored the Oscars and we’ve seen it as an opportunity to create relevancy for our brand,” says a Walmart spokesperson. “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 to highlight our assortment of on-trend fashion off the red carpet.”
The idea of "off the red carpet" is multi-layered in this scenario. Stylists who typically work behind the scenes dressed people who are very much behind the scenes and, adds Yang, the even-further-behind-the-scenes production crew that shot the campaign.
“When I arrived on-set, I’d say 90 percent of the crew was female and not in their 20s, but their 30s and 40s,” said Yang. “I can’t remember the last time in my life being on a set where the women outnumbered the men, plus there was a wide swath of ethnicity. I don’t know if it was a conscious effort, but it was such a refreshing situation.”
As the daughter of immigrants, Yang said that being part of the project had particular significance: “My mother came to America with just $20 in her pocket. For her to say, ‘Oh my God, my daughter aired in a commercial during in the Oscars’ is amazing.”
“To pull back the curtain and allow people to see what’s behind all the layers upon layers of what happens to create a movie or commercial allowed me to get to dress someone who does catering," she continued. “Catering is the most important person on set! If everyone is hungry, then they’re in a bad mood. These are actually the people who make this all possible!”