Wal-Mart Finally Pays Off the Little Guy

Between November 30 and December 6, "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. placed full-page advertisements in 336 Midwestern newspapers." Wal-Mart's move "comes as the retailer repositions itself on several fronts - particularly community relations." Wal-Mart's lack of local advertising means that "if one local grocery store goes out, a community newspaper loses at a minimum one or two full-page ads or inserts a week," said the director of the National Newspaper Association (NNA). Mona Williams, Wal-Mart's PR head, said the company "would consider incorporating the local papers into our overall ad strategy" if "there is a significant return" on their trial run. Williams said local ads may "generate good will." In early 2005, Wal-Mart ran ads in major metropolitan papers while "a public relations firm approach[ed] local papers, hoping to place news stories on Wal-Mart's views." NNA protested, saying local papers "are all but invisible to Wal-Mart - unless the company is looking for some free PR."