29th Jan, 2008

Are You Kidding Me? Wal-Mart Announces Economic Stimulus Plan

Super BowlI’m about to sound un-American, but I really was flabbergasted just now as I watched the local news on KFSM Channel 5 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. They were reporting on a statement issued today by the Chief Merchandising Officer of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. about how Wal-Mart will make a difference for the American people in the economic crunch.

Wal-Mart states saving families money is what they do. Chief Merchandising Officer, John Fleming states, “As gas prices rise and economic belts tighten customers look to Wal-Mart, and our role is to respond in ways that we know can make a bigger difference–saving 25 cents to a dollar on items for the super bowl party can add up quickly.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!! Wal-Mart is going to help us all by lowering prices on the snacks we eat during Super Bowl parties to make a difference for the economy??? Let me get this straight…. There’s this football game. 22 guys on a field hoping to move a ball four yards a play. Start. Stop. A bunch of guys on the ground in tight pants. It’s become such a big deal that people all over the United States have parties to watch it. Single tickets for the game are being resold for $18,500. 30-second ads are selling for $2.7 million. And people buy tons of coke, chips, hot dogs, and other snack foods, resulting in driving up antacid sales the day after the Super Bowl by 20% to support the over 7.5 million Super Bowl parties!!! Yes, even more people watched the Super Bowl than voted in the last Presidential election. And, all of the money spent on ads and snacks doesn’t even begin to talk about all the money wasted gambling, legally and illegally, on every aspect of … a …. game.

So, in light of this, Wal-Mart claims it is doing us all a favor by rolling back prices on Super Bowl snacks. In fairness, what Wal-Mart is doing with lowering prices is good, but their professional marketer made a stupid statement about it, in my opinion. Hmmmm, we could all do our pocketbooks and waist lines a favor by not buying all that junk food in the first place. We could even likely avoid a few medical issues and thus costly health care visits and drugs if we took better care of ourselves and our diets in the first place. (Not to mention again the money spent on therapy for families and individuals destroyed by gambling and other addictions.) Moreover, if we didn’t spend money on chips and soda we might have more money for things that really matter.

I don’t know… something tells me that the American dream is slowly but surely killing us. This money obsession shows up in everything we do, even the stuff that used to just be fun when we were kids playing football on the vacant lot. blog-post-129.jpgWhat have we done? The Super Bowl is fun. It is neat. I’ll be watching it. But why do we pay millions for someone to play football? Why do we drive up the cost of everything by the billions spent on professional sports when there are people who can’t get healthcare or buy groceries?

Have I just lost my marbles?

Responses

As a professional marketing guy I had a huge laugh when I saw the press release this morning. Talk about being out of touch with reality. If they had done this kind of “stunt” when the economy was rolling along it would have been great. As it is, it shows just how low they will stoop to make a buck.

Here’s how the conversation probably went in Flemings office as they were coming up with this idea:

Fleming – hey it sucks that the ecomony is so bad. We can’t get rid of all this inventory we have on stuff we decided to buy.

Ad Exec – yea I know it sucks. Hey did you see about the stimulus package that they are going to pass. Man what a bunch of idiots. Heck, we won’t see the money until some time this summer.

Fleming – by then all of our stuff is going to be stale and the TV’s we sell will be obsolete. Too bad people can’t get the money until then.

Ad Exec – I got an idea, why don’t we have a contest and give people the stuff we can’t sell and then donate the rest to charity.

Fleming – donate? Are you kidding me. No way. My bonus is riding on us selling this stuff. Hey, wait. I have an idea. Why don’t we piggy back on this national crisis and look like we are being the good guys. We can use some of the money that the manufacturers give us to lower prices, look like we are doing something good, and then get lot’s of press.

Ad Exec – yea. We can make it look like we really care.

Fleming – yup and I still get my bonus. Everyone wins.

Ad Exec – it’s a win win.

Fleming – I love it when you talk marketing speak.

By the way I spent over 20 years in Corporate America and was the Chief Marketing Officer for a fortune 100 company. I don’t think I’m too far off of what really happened up there at Wal-Mart.

I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks.

Cheers and go Patriots

Having sat in on a few of those types of meetings myself, Bob, I know you are right. Thanks for writing because your comment adds a ton to this post! LOL at “I love it when you talk marketing speak…”

And, I really don’t mean to be quite such a killjoy; I really am reacting to the stupidity of the quote. If the money is so tight that a person can’t afford to buy gas to get to work, I surely hope they aren’t spending extra money on doritos and Mountain Dew for a big Super Bowl party. And doing such definitely isn’t helping our economy.

I’m pretty well with both of you guys. It’s ridiculous. But I’ve been anti-Wal-Mart for a few years now. They only have one thing I need, and that’s Rain-X Windshield Washer Fluid.

But… you must be one devoted fan, Bryan, if you’re going to watch the game from England. I’m guessing you guys made it back there with a visa in hand, right? Because the game’s going to be on pretty late in the UK.

Thanks for the feedback. While I’m generally not against Wal-Mart, I’m always against people trying stupid marketing tactics thinly clothed in good will.

Have a good one.

I’m not anti-Wal-Mart either. I agree with what you’ve said, Bob. I am saddened by consumerism, but not Wal-Mart. I am also saddened by the mentality expressed by this exec’s quote.

Joe, I grew up in Wal-Mart country here in NWArkansas and even worked for Wal-Mart for 2+ years. I have seen them do a lot of great work and I like low prices. But a corporation is just that – a corporation and as such it has no soul.

I haven’t been to a Wal-Mart in almost ten years. 🙂

thanks !! very helpful post!

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