Wal-Mart Embarks on Image-Boosting Campaign

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The world's largest retailer wants to improve its image with American consumers and is using newspaper advertising, a new Web site and direct mail to accomplish its goal.

Wal-Mart, Bentonville, AR, announced a national advertising campaign yesterday consisting of full-page ads appearing in 100 newspapers. The ads are in the form of a letter from Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott that underscores the company's positive contributions to the U.S. economy.

"There are a lot of 'urban legends' going around these days about Wal-Mart, but facts are facts. Wal-Mart is good for consumers, good for communities and good for the U.S. economy," Scott said in a statement.

Scott was referring to such commonly held beliefs as that Wal-Mart is bad for local businesses and that it pays employees poorly.

The ad's headline reads: "Wal-Mart is working for everyone. Some of our critics are working only for themselves." It notes that Wal-Mart plans to create 100,000 jobs this year, 74 percent of hourly associates work full-time and employee benefits include healthcare insurance and a 401(k) plan.

Wal-Mart also launched a Web site yesterday, walmartfacts.com, which highlights topics such as the company's effect on individual communities and its working environment.

In a more targeted effort, Wal-Mart is using a direct mail campaign to introduce itself to those it hopes will be its new neighbors in two towns in Washington state, according to a newspaper report this week. The retail giant has proposed building supercenter stores in the towns of Tumwater and Yelm, which has caused concern among locals about the effect on local businesses.

The direct mail pieces feature the headline "Wal-Mart is a good neighbor" and include a comment card. They began arriving in Yelm mailboxes this week and are expected to be sent to Tumwater residents next week. The mailer highlights Wal-Mart's competitive pricing and benefits it provides to a community, such as sales tax revenue, jobs and medical benefits.

"We sent them out to provide information on the benefits of our stores," Wal-Mart spokesman Eric Berger told The Olympian. "And we want to get feedback and identify supporters."

Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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