Wal-Mart: An American Success Story?

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) has started a new advertising campaign that touts the company as an “American Success Story.” Facing a potential backlash from its customers over bribery allegations, worker protests and the working conditions of the factories it sources the products it sells — the recent factory collapse that killed more than 350 workers in Bangladesh forcing this into the spotlight — Wal-Mart is pushing back. The advertising campaign started airing Saturday during the Kentucky Derby, a very American sporting event. Below is one of the ads that are part of the campaign.

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The advertising campaign is titled “The Real Walmart” and Bill Simon — head of the company’s U.S. division — said in an interview: “We want to talk directly to the public and tell them the whole story, not just what they read about.” He said that the advertisement campaign is designed to let people know they “don’t know the whole story” about the big-box retailer.

Mr. Simon said in a press release regarding the new ad campaign, “We have wanted to do this for a long time because we know that people trust Wal-Mart even more when they understand the opportunities we provide our associates, who the customers are that shop with us and how we deliver low prices. Every month, more than 60 percent of Americans shop at Walmart and we are proud to help them save money on what they want and need to build better lives for themselves and their families.” The company is looking to burnish its image after a number of high-profile news stories have shown it in a poor light.

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Unfortunately for the company, much of what has driven its success is what is making it look bad in public opinion. Wal-Mart’s main draw to shoppers is its “Always low prices” motto. How does the company make sure its prices are always low? It sources much of its inventory from foreign countries with low wages and pays relatively low wages in the U.S. (although in-line with other U.S.-based big-box retailers). Still, as long as Wal-Mart keeps offering always low prices, it is hard to see the company’s customers stop shopping there, regardless of how much bad press Wal-Mart receives.

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