Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Wal-Mart’s Urban Image

According to Reuters:

Cable channel BET and Wal-Mart announced a marketing alliance Tuesday that will provide Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores with exclusive companion DVDs that contain BET programming and content related to urban-oriented music and movie releases.

The DVDs will be packaged with the music and movie releases and sold as "BET Official" branded two-packs in BET-branded retail sections and at other merchandising displays throughout thousands of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club locations nationwide.
After hearing this we're now waiting for Wal-Mart to team up with Jay-Z for a "I've got 99 problems but low prices ain't one" campaign.

Seriously, this is yet another crafty move by Wal-Mart to gain exposure in the various urban communities that it wants to enter or expand in. Despite its previously documented problems with race discrimination, the mega-retailer believes that by sponsoring film festivals, scholarships and other minority-targeted programs it has a better chance of breaching places like New York City.

And according to a new treacly Time magazine article the strategy is partially working in Chicago:

In the past decade, the world's biggest retailer has been portrayed as a brutal giant, accused of wiping out small businesses, union busting, discrimination against female employees, employing illegal immigrants--not to mention the knock, vehemently disputed by the company, of being a low payer. But recently one of America's most embattled corporations has found an ally in one of America's most embattled demographics. No longer content to let its profits do the talking, Wal-Mart is trying to remake its image, in some measure with the aid of inner-city African Americans. The math is simple: Wal-Mart offers stores and jobs to poor black communities that are hemorrhaging both. Meanwhile, those communities extol the virtues of Wal-Mart, offering a buffer against the company's critics.
For a good critique of this piece check out JR on Daily Kos.

However, it remains to be seen whether the same success will be duplicated here in New York City. We have pointed out that Wal-Mart’s best shot in the 5 boroughs would be in a lower-income minority neighborhood but, unlike Chicago, a number of black and Hispanic elected officials here are against the store and there is less racial tension between minority New Yorkers and the labor movement.