The (Bentonville) Empire Strikes Back
After years of sitting back, taking it on the chin from competitors and protestors, and growing like kudzu, Wal-Mart is firing back to clear its image.
I guess all of the complaints about overseas trade imbalances, lower pay for women, union-busting, benefit-shaving, inferior products, shutting down Mom-and-Pops, invading trendy neighborhoods, driving truckers to exhaustion, and pagan animal rituals finally got to the brass. (Okay, I made the last one up.) But the point here is that the others, whether substantiated or not, had been repeated so vociferously and so often that the substance entered the general consciousness as truth.
CEO H. Lee Scott took out full page ads in more than 100 papers. He says he's not worried about how the tactic appears, as long as Wal-Mart tells the truth. “There are a lot of urban legends going round these days about Wal-Mart,” said Lee Scott, chief executive. “For too long, others have had free rein to say things about our company that just aren't true. Our associates [employees] are tired of it and we've decided it's time to draw our own line in the sand.” (Now that he's thrown down that gauntlet, he'd better well stick to it.)