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Wal-Mart Watch, which does what its name implies, finds it's hard to rent a billboard in Bentonville during Wal-Mart's stockholders meeting that suggests the company could do some improving. A billboard company apparently decided its financial interests didn't include selling space to somebody raising questions about locals.

The Wal-Mart Way is somewhat reminsicent, wouldn't you say, of some people in public life? And, we don't think Wal-Mart would think this is a good idea, PR-wise.

Full release on the jump.

But this is even better -- some investigating of Wal-Mart expenditures and actvities of directors. $100,000 worth of personal travel for Lee Scott on Wal-Mart planes; $150,000 in phone and security payments for a retired company official; sweet perks worked out by other Wal-Mart directors. No, these folks don't live like the cart pushers they pretend to venerate at the company pep rallies.

WAL-MART WATCH NEWS RELEASE

 NO FIRST AMENDMENT IN BENTONVILLE: WAL-MART WATCH BILLBOARD COMES DOWN

Bentonville , Ark. , June 1, 2006 – Today, a billboard purchased by Wal-Mart Watch and placed at 1111 Sam Walton Boulevard in Bentonville, is undergoing a whitewashing by the very company that agreed to put up the billboard.

Whistler Outdoor Advertising entered into a contract with Wal-Mart Watch to put up the billboard and the display went up as planned at 8 a.m. today. Whistler approved the artwork after they received it on May 25. But this afternoon, owner Shawn Whistler reneged on the deal, and claimed that Wal-Mart Watch had “duped” the company. Whistler also told Wal-Mart Watch that many of his clients do business with Wal-Mart.

The billboard included the following quote from Wal-Mart’s late founder, Sam Walton:  “Maybe the most important way in which we at Wal-Mart believe in giving something back is through our commitment to using the power of this enormous enterprise as a force for change.” It also called on Wal-Mart to accept Wal-Mart Watch’s “Handshake with Sam”. The “handshake” refers to the proposed agreement made in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times on May 23, in which Wal-Mart Watch called on Wal-Mart to reform its business practices.

Wal-Mart Watch executive director Andrew Grossman issued the following statement in response:

“Back in the days of Sam Walton, deals were sealed with a handshake, which Mr. Sam considered the same as a moral contract. Last week we offered our proposed agreement, ‘A Handshake with Sam’, in good faith. Unfortunately, Wal-Mart responded to our handshake with jeers. Now another contract has been broken. Whistler Outdoor Advertising approved the artwork and billboard a week ago, and they put the billboard up this morning. They broke the deal this afternoon under what must have been withering pressure from Wal-Mart and its suppliers. Apparently there is no first amendment in Bentonville. We hope that Whistler will reconsider their decision. If not, we will accept our refund and contribute it to the Bentonville Public Library.”

Click here to view the billboard’s design:

http://walmartwatch.com/img/billboard.gif

 


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