February 7th, 2007
Hi y’all, I’ve gotten my first issue of a new Business 2.0 subscription (Christmas present — thanks, mom and dad) and am clearly going to get hooked on this sucker. Besides regular coverage of recent developments in the online business world, both large and small (and if advocacy campaigns aren’t watching what companies are doing, we’re missing the main places where new tools are being developed), the magazine also looks at topics ranging from advertising to broadcast media to personal communications, all seen through the lens of changing technology. It’s similar to Wired in some ways, but with a little less gee-whiz/gadget-porn and a little more on the practical application of new ideas. Plus you get the occasional feature like this one, the 101 Dumbest Moments in Business, headlined by….
#1:Another Brick in the Wal
Because if there’s anything America loves, it’s a politician.
In an attempt to put a smiley face on its tarnished image, Wal-Mart hires heavy-hitting public relations firm Edelman, which sets about using tactics derived from political races to reverse public perceptions of the giant retailer.
Dubbing its campaign “Candidate Wal-Mart,” the firm trumpets all manner of new Wal-Mart initiatives: improved employee health-care benefits, higher starting pay levels, new stores in downtrodden neighborhoods, reasonably priced organic foods, and a flat $4 fee for hundreds of generic prescription drugs.
As a result, candidate Wal-Mart quickly becomes, well, the most popular politician since Spiro Agnew. By year’s end Wal-Mart suffers its first quarterly profit drop in a decade, sees same-store sales decline in November’s run-up to the crucial holiday shopping season, and suffers a series of public relations gaffes so stunning that it lands six spots in this year’s edition of the 101 Dumbest Moments.
More equally fun stuff here. A minor quibble: they list the Chevy Tahoe ad competion as Dumbest Moment #4, but according to Wired, the unflattering consumer-generated ads actually helped drive traffic to the Tahoe site and may have done more to help sales than to hurt them.