Sorry, Wal-Mart. The kids would rather talk labor politics than home decor.

Posted by: Burt Helm on August 20, 2007

Wal-Mart has already had trouble building its own social-networking site , The Hub. Now it has inadvertently made itself the subject of debate with a sponsored page on Facebook. My colleague, Pallavi Gogoi, sends along this:

Last week, Wal-Mart launched the “Roommate Style Match” group on Facebook, the social-networking site with millions of high school and college-age users. The group will allow college students to design their rooms and links to Wal-Marts online site. A click on electronics brings up options for computers, MP3s and digital cameras. So far the group has attracted 312 members, though the marketing effort looks like it might backfire since its already attracted several anti-Wal-Mart comments. One user Brent Cox from Jackson (Ms) urges folks to shop local and and fight the corporate monster. “I’ve seen Wal-Mart destroy many good independent businesses,” says Cox in a post.

And here’s another comment on the page, from a Facebook user named Whit Ashley:

do people realize WHY prices are so low at Wal-Mart? cause THEY DO NO PAY LIVING WAGES to employees in America and THEIR CHINESE FACTORIES ARE BASICALLY SLAVERY.

WAL-MART IS HATEFUL AND IS A BLIGHT ON AMERICA.

Facebook should CUT ALL ITS TIES to Wal-Mart. GET WALMART OFF FACEBOOK!

Yeesh. Anybody want to talk lamps and futons?

I actually think it’s a good call on Wal-Mart’s part not to censor the page or take it down. This discussion is inevitable. And looking at the feed of comments now, it has actually spurred a pretty healthy bull session on Wal-Mart’s role in the U.S., with several students coming out in favor of the retailing giant. I think it’s smart PR for Wal-Mart to host this discussion, even it was totally inadvertent.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://blogs.businessweek.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/

Reader Comments

Andrew

August 22, 2007 01:44 PM

This is another great example of companies using social media to shoot themselves in the foot. This is reminiscent of the Chevy Tahoe build your own ad campaign that ended in a PR nightmare for Chevrolet. I agree that an honest conversation about Walmarts role in society is important, but this was certainly not the intended consequence of the "Roommate Style Match" campaign as you pointed out. Ad firms seem to be unaware of when and how to create an effective social marketing campaign as many of the recent attempts seem to prove

David Binkowski

August 26, 2007 08:29 AM

I've pointed it out before, but shopping at Wal-Mart isn't a badge of honor, the way people carry around, say, Apple, Tiffany's or, more relevant to teens, a Hollister bag. Again, if Wal-Mart wanted to gain respect they should come out and be honest with what they're about - killer distribution, economies of scale and, ultimately, low prices.

Son Of Liberty

August 26, 2007 12:17 PM

I think it's funny as all hell - every time walmart turns around their getting blasted by a new group of people. :))

Walmart STILL hasn't learned that not only is karma REAL... but it's got a lot of teeth!

Post a comment

 

About

News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!