Wal-Mart Pours on the PR

Wal-Mart is launching a massive PR blitz to try to staunch the criticism it receives from concerned consumers and activists working on issues like labor, the environment, healthcare and human rights. The TV broadcast ads on network and cable channels will focus on "Sam's Dream," referring to founder Sam Walton. "It all began with a big dream in a small town, Sam Walton's dream," a narrator says as one ad starts with a black-and-white photo of Sam Walton and a grainy shot of Walton's first five-and-dime store in what is now the chain's headquarters town of Bentonville, Ark. "Sam's dream. Your neighborhood Wal-Mart," the ad ends. While Wal-Mart spokesperson David Tovar asserts that "This campaign is part of a long-term effort to inform the public about the company's positive impact on communities, including some of our core values like affordable health care, customer savings and charitable contributions," WakeUpWalMart.com spokesman Chris Kofinis assesses the 30- and 60-second spots as "Wal-Mart ... living in a bizarre state of denial, where no matter how bad their public reputation is, they still believe that a tired ad campaign can fool the American public into believing it is OK to exploit millions of working families."