Walmart’s partnership with DeGeneres gives the retailer a widely popular ally in its battle against Amazon. It carries both ED by Ellen and EV1, DeGeneres’s clothing brand, which comes in a wide range of sizes and looks like a cheaper version (everything is $30 or under) of the kind of pants-and-jean-jacket outfits DeGeneres wears. Walmart declined to provide sales figures for EV1 but says it’s “pleased” with the line. “Ellen is Ellen,” says Janey Whiteside, Walmart’s chief customer officer. “She appeals to all ages. She’s great.”
DeGeneres’s clean-cut, friendly image—she ends her show by reminding viewers to “be kind to one another”—is reassuring for brands in this perilous marketing era when any misstep could result in a massive social media backlash. As Jeff Greenfield, co-founder of advertising analytics firm C3 Metrics, puts it, “Ellen is safe.” She loves animals. She dances. She often has her wife on as a guest. The couple have been married for more than a decade. “Even when we talk with very conservative brands, they don’t shy away,” says Stacy Jones, CEO of the product placement firm Hollywood Branded. “She is a family brand.”
The American Family Association today seems uncharacteristically mum about DeGeneres. While it released that scathing rebuke of Walmart for its gay-friendly commercial, it didn’t respond to a request for comment on the chain’s partnership with the comedian.