Bentonville Events Spark Collaboration


The Mars Agency’s industry-leading presence within the Walmart ecosystem was fully evident at a pair of partnership-fostering events held last month in the retailer’s hometown.


Two half-days of community building began on July 21 with a panel discussion on “Best Practices in Omnichannel Marketing at Walmart” hosted by the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce. Part of the local business organization’s ongoing “WalStreet Fireside Chat” series, the session attracted more than 100 members of the Walmart ecosystem.


Rob Rivenburgh, The Mars Agency’s global CEO, joined with Whitney Cooper, Senior Director of Omnichannel Transformation at Walmart, to moderate the discussion, which examined guiding principles for successful program development and presented best practices for effective collaboration.


The experienced, insightful panel featured Lara Barmish, Head of Consumables at Walmart Connect; Carolyn Robbins, Senior Manager of Omni Shopper Marketing for Walmart at Mars Wrigley; Monica Breithaupt, Vice President of Sales, Laundry and Home Care for Walmart Inc. at Henkel; and Cassie Ross, Henkel’s Senior Customer Marketing Manager for Walmart.


As part of the discussion, Mars Wrigley’s Robbins presented a case study on “SKITTLES’ PRIDE It Forward at Walmart,” a three-year-old program that has been touted by both Walmart and Walmart Connect as a best-in-class partnership. Breithaupt and Ross shared learnings from “We Speak Laundry,” a category-building campaign that recently earned Henkel and The Mars Agency a Reggie award from the ANA.

From left: Rob Rivenburgh, Whitney Cooper, Lara Barmish, Monica Breithaupt, Cassie Ross & Carolyn Robbins

Photo courtesy of Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce


Insights from the panel discussion were immediately put into practice the following day, when The Mars Agency hosted representatives from Walmart Connect and 10 supplier companies for a half-day Ideation Session. The invitation-only gathering was designed to identify unique opportunities for program partnerships in 2023 that could drive business growth by enhancing the Walmart shopper experience through new solutions or occasions.


The 30-plus attendees were “banned” from simply discussing new ideas for existing shopping occasions (like back to school) or solutions (summer grilling) in order to focus on real innovation. The exercise generated a number of high-level thought-starters about breakthrough programs and potential partnerships, with the participants agreeing to evaluate the concepts in greater detail at follow-up meetings.

“The Mars Agency team curated a perfect group of innovative supplier and Walmart Connect partners to drive a truly new way of building solutions for Walmart shoppers across the entire box,” said Maggie Martin, Director of Omnichannel Customer Marketing for Walmart & Sam’s Club at Bayer. “It was incredibly valuable, focused time together that resulted in conversations within the next week to collaborate on plans.”


The Mars Agency’s Bentonville-based Customer Development team has built uniquely strong relationships with executives across the Walmart organization and fostered meaningful connections between the retailer and our brand clients. These events are just one example of the thought leadership and relationship building we consistently bring to the Walmart ecosystem.


Similar Ideation Sessions will be held at some of our other Customer Development Hubs, which include Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Chicago and Tampa.


For more information about working with our Bentonville Customer Development team, contact Victoria Van Dusen at [email protected].