100 Days of Pop: Episode 15 Wal-Mart Car Nostalgia

2019 starts off with a bang for pop-marketing in maybe the most impressive pop-culture crossover ever put on film.

And in a TV advertisement no less!

So who is this daring brand that crossed the streams, moved heaven and earth and created this before thought uncreatable pop-marketing crossover boondoggle?  

No other than a brand that never fails to surprise us with their uncanny knack of understanding the zeitgeist of pop-culture fandoms and pretty much everything cool….Who else could it be but...Wal-Mart.


Yep, Wal-Mart stuns us all, making the impossible possible w/ a TV spot that they debuted on the Golden Globes awards (Also a very contextual play to pop culture lovers) pimping their car side delivery service with iconic pop culture vehicles from our childhood that spans cartoons, movies, and toys from all over the place joining forces in a Wal-Mart parking lot to pick up their groceries.

The idea is simple enough, but the real jaw-dropper and the part that really deserves the slow clap from around the internet is the bureaucratic super-human powers that the lawyers went through to get all of these franchises onto 1 spot.  The first time this many IPS have been on screen since Ready Player One came onto to the big screen in 2017.

The Wal-Mart marketing team partnered with Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures and Hasbro and having them all play nice together is a feat that until now would have been thought impossible and an idea that would have been laughed out of any creative brainstorm once the producers keyed everyone in on the work involved in bringing this to life.

Today on the Pop100, I’m going to breakdown the Wal-Mart spot and countdown all 12 of the iconic pop-cars featured in the spot.  

Starting with:

#1- The Batmobile!

The Batmobile is the first pop-vehicle to make an appearance.  One of the most iconic vehicles in comic, tv and cinematic history, they skipped the nostalgic play deciding to go w/ the most recent rendition of the vehicle, w/ the more tank/anime hybrid version from Justice League movie.  All Batfleck jokes aside, there’s no mistaking it for anything else and a hell of a way to grab attention quickly.

#2 the Ecto 1

Driving right out the original Ghostbusters movies. They didn’t take the most modern version from the 2016 movie but instead went with the nostalgic 1959 Cadilac Miller-Meteor. which makes a lot more sense in hindsight now that we saw the teaser to the original cast sequel teaser trailer that hit the internet last week.

#3 KITT 2000

The 1982 Pontiac Transam that is KITT, the Knight Industry Two Thousand and the star of the show Knightrider that launched David Hasselhoff's meteoric career.  We even get a cameo appearance of KITT’s voice, that was portrayed by William Daniels who was the voice of the original KITT on the TV series in the 80s. A very nice detail that isn’t lost on this audience. Bravo WallyWorld.

#4 Lightning McQueen

Pixar gets in on the action, with a brief appearance of Lightning McQueen from the Cars franchise, which is probably just a nod to the sheer toy aisle domination that Cars toys have had at Wal-Mart for the last decade.

#5 The Mutt Cutts Van

Then a very welcomed surprise of the Mutt Cutts shaggin’ wagon from one of my favorite comedies of all time Dumb & Dumber. While leaving the world of fandoms, it cannot be argued as one of the most iconic Hollywood cars in the last 20 years.

#6 The Family Vacation Stationwagon

No iconic car collection is complete w/o out the addition of the legendary Wagon Queen Family Truckster, from National Lampoons Vacation that took the Griswolds on their first trip to WallyWorld in 1983.

#7 The Mystery Machine

My personal childhood dream car, the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo. Minus the bong smoke seeping from the windows, they did a great job here.  Small note, despite popular belief, the van was NOT modeled after the VW bus from the 60s…proving that brands of the past very much didn’t understand the power of pop-marketing. Ruh Roh

#8 The Jurassic Park Tour SUV

The colorful and jungled out Ford Explorer which they chose over the fan favorite jeep (probably because it looks way more like a family vehicle) that makes sense in the context of the spot. A bonus cameo of some small dinosaur,  Compsognathus (COMP-sawg-nathoos) which actually didn’t appear until 1997’s Lost World that did NOT feature the Tour Trucks…Duly noted Wal-Mart!

#9 Cinderella’s Pumpkin

Disney makes another solid entry with Cinderella’s Enchanted Pumpkin Coach, which even though it isn’t necessarily a car, it is an iconic form of transportation that debuted in the 1950 animated movie and also made an appearance in the modern live-action remake.

#10 The Flinstones Car

Next up, our favorite foot powered and very green sedan, the Flinstones family car rolls into the commercial.  A nod to the baby boomers childhood and one of my least favorite cartoons of my youth. I had no idea that it was made for adults, it was like watching a really boring Simpsons where I’m praying for the Great Gazoo just go ahead and zap Fred from this plain of existence.  (Toxic Masculinity)

#11 Bumblee

From 80’s Transformers fame, and I was happy to see the throwback VW from the original toy as well as the newest movie that hit theaters this summer.

#12 Back to the Future Delorian

Finally, the granddaddy of all iconic 80’s artifacts, the Delorian from Back to the Future swoops in, which would have held a bit more weight if it hadn’t already spent some notalgic juice in Ready Player One but puts a really nice bow on the spot.

That was it 13 vehicles, 5 partnerships, tons of money and many many meetings between many many lawyers later and Wal-Mart have raised the bar on pop-marketing crossovers, probably using more than a few favors, but job well-done and maybe one of the only few brands in the world that could pull it off.

What vehicles did they miss?  What should have been in there?  Let’s talk about it in the comments-  let me know what you thought.

I’m Joe Cox and this is the Pop100-  Visit me at Pop-marketer.com and signup to my weekly newsletter the Weekly Zeitgeist and see what other things are going on in the worlds between pop-culture and marketing.  Until then- later gators.

Joe Cox