How Daddy Yankee’s “Shaky Shaky” became the soundtrack for Walmart’s holiday commercial

Licensing and ad placement has become very interesting to me over the years, in regards to music. It’s cool to hear some of your favorite artists’ songs setting the stage for a scene in a movie/TV show, video game, or even a commercial. Music is impactful and plays a huge role in these avenues, as well as many others.

I’ve noticed Walmart’s marketing moves since around the 2016 Halloween marketing phase in early fall, specifically in television ad placement. To be simple, they’re going after the Latin market. I picked up on it when they placed Prince Royce‘s “Stand By Me” for the Halloween season. This intrigued me. It wasn’t because licensing was something new in the marketing world, but Royce is a buzzing young Bachata/Pop/R&B artist who I’ve paid attention to over the years. I’m aware of most of his work and I’ve seen the impact he has on young listeners.

It was a brilliant commercial. The storyline was one of a young boy making his Halloween costume and heading out on his own to collect candy. He dressed up in a Captain America outfit  and attached an “Invisible Man” costume to his own. Get it. . ? Stand By Me? While watching, I got a laugh as he motions to the people at the houses he visits to give candy to his invisible accomplice, in addition to him. It was funny because it seemed like the ultimate jugg and he was on a major comeup. It gets better, though, because the story isn’t finished. The little boy ends up at his friends house by the end of the night and brings him the other bucket of candy as he was collecting it for him since he couldn’t go trick or treating that night.

Now, enters Puerto Rico’s Reggaeton/Hip Hop veteran, Daddy Yankee. With a seemingly unending list of awards, accolades, and chart topping hits, he is arguably a solid selection as any corporation’s marketing campaign geared towards Latin communities, let alone Walmart’s.

Just as I caught wind of Prince Royce’s placement soothingly floating through my TV speakers, I immediately recognized Daddy Yankee’s hit, “Shaky Shaky,” bouncing via its broadcast. It was a fun commercial showing kids full of excitement as they handled their Christmas gifts with a “shaking” motion as many of us have done before. The joy and passion these kids have is unmatched as they celebrate what they found beneath their tree. Daddy Yankee’s song is the perfect tune to match these visuals.

His strategy for “Shaky Shaky” was a wise one. It grew to become a viral smash as he initially pushed it via He requested that that his fans would upload their versions of the song, back in May, as it had no official music video, yet. Within 12 hours, more than 10,000 “Shaky Shaky” videos were uploaded, making the song trend globally with ease. Six months later and “Shaky Shaky” has topped Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart and become a familiar household tune.

It turns out that the Walmart campaign was formed and planned around the song, says Olga Reyes, executive creative director of Lopez Negrete Communications, the ad agency that created it.

“Music is a key element in the Walmart campaign,” Reyes tells Billboard. “And in this particular spot we needed to tell a story about Christmas morning, about finding the perfect gift and the kids opening the presents. As soon as I heard ‘Shaky Shaky,’ I could see in my mind the kids shaking those gifts. It conveys the wow moment of kids finding what they want. ‘Shaky Shaky’ became another character in the story.”

Having the ad spot built around the song isn’t the usual practice, according to Fernando Osuna, chief creative officer for Lopez Negrete, which has long worked with Walmart. “We usually don’t find music and then come up with stories. Usually we find a story and the music amplifies it. But the moment you look at this spot, you can see everything is perfect.”

In order to get the rights to “Shaky Shaky,” the Lopez Negrete team enlisted Creative License, the New York-based company that secures talent and licenses for brands and advertisers.

“We saw how many hits the song had on YouTube and we were concerned,” admits Osuna. “But then we said, ‘If we get it, it will be huge.’”

This is a big deal! The official “Shaky Shaky” video’s online performance is off the charts with 617 million views on YouTube. The two lyric videos have over 50 million views and, naturally, many dancers have uploaded choreographies of their own set to the track which reeled in several million views.

According to Reyes, the campaign team had another option for the ad, just in case. Who was it? I have no idea. The point is: “Shaky Shaky” is a monster of a placement and at this point it, nothing else matters.

“It was a completely different story with different kind of music,” she says. Yankee’s music, however, “really captures the Latin spirit.”