Archived Movable Type Content

March 04, 2005

Wal-Mart values cheap PR

The headline implies that Wal-Mart is giving $5 million to a local hospital, but itís worth reading the article to find some interesting details.

First, this is not an altruistic and selfless act: Wal-Mart will receive tons of good publicity, something they are actively seeking right now, and the emergency room will forever be stamped with the Wal-Mart name. Again, the free advertising here may be worth $5 million all by itself.

Next, it turns out that the bulk of the donation is not actually from Wal-Martís corporate coffers, but from fundraisers at local Wal-Mart stores. Wal-Mart is not making these donations - its customers and employees are. Wal-Mart is not paying $5 million for the free advertising, but it will get all of the benefit, since most people will never read past the headline.

Finally, itís ironic that even as Wal-Mart soaks up all the good PR, many Wal-Mart and other low wage workers face the scary reality of having their kids lose health insurance. This will invariably lead to cases where the uninsured children of underpaid Wal-Mart workers will seek primary care at the Wal-Mart & Samís Club Emergency room while lacking any realistic ability to pay for hospital services, thus draining funds from the very place that Wal-Mart wants you to think that they are so kindly supporting.

Posted by Norwood at March 4, 2005 05:23 AM

Good catch. My husband noted that,too and I looked at their website and verified. All the stores do this for charity and it is ridiculous that they reap publicity and good will from the generosity of their shoppers. What a deal for Walmart.

Posted by: Librarian at March 4, 2005 07:52 AM

Posted the story and a link to your commentary on a message board -- great find and analysis.

Posted by: John F at March 4, 2005 01:26 PM