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Wal-Mart toutes national ad campaign touting environmentally friendly products

Wal-Mart launched a national ad campaign touting environmentally friendly products, part of what analysts call a move by major retailers to test exactly how much demand there is from "green" consumers.

Wal-Mart's 30-second television ads on national broadcast and cable stations that will be aired on such programs as "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and ABC's "Good Morning America", each feature a woman urging Wal-Mart shoppers to help the environment by buying low-energy light bulbs, organic cotton clothes or concentrated laundry detergent, which reduces packaging.

Matching print ads will appear in Friday and Sunday editions of USA Today and The New York Times and in national Sunday supplements, said Linda Blakely, a spokeswoman for the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer. She declined to say how much the campaign cost.

The launch comes a day after The Home Depot Inc. said it will put labels on products in its U.S. stores classifying them as environmentally friendly.

Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement store chain, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, are trying to determine how much actual demand there is from which consumers and in what parts of the country.

"They know the buzz is out there," said Richard Hastings, vice president and senior retail sector analyst at Bernard Sands.

"They're trying to find out what is the market out there. They need to know what is the demand, what is the response," Sands said.

Wal-Mart and Home Depot, leaders in their sectors, are out front while other large chains may prefer to wait and see the results before launching their own marketing, he said.

Wal-Mart has been moving since 2005 into the field it calls sustainability, offering more products such as organic food and compact fluorescent light bulbs that use less power than traditional bulbs. It has also set targets for reducing energy use and waste at its roughly 4,000 U.S. stores.

The ads, which will run through the end of the month, are Wal-Mart's first national campaign to push those products, Blakely said.

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