Walmart’s (NYSE:WMT) newest ad campaign — which focuses on “The Real Walmart” — has led many onlookers to see it as a rebuttal against the recent criticisms aimed against the company on a variety of topics, including factory conditions in Bangladesh and recent reports regarding their use of temp workers.
The $3 million ad campaign, which has shown up on Hulu and other outlets, is being criticized by those who believe the ads are attempting to make the company appear better to the general public rather than making important changes. “We’ve so normalized to corporate identities as ‘persons’ that doing stuff like this PR campaign ends up ringing frightfully hollow,” Zev Eigen, a law professor at the Northwestern University School of Law, says. Eigen, who specializes in labor issues, says the ad campaign appears to him like a lipstick-on-a-pig situation.
Derek Plummer, a spokesman for Making Change at Walmart, argues that the issue of Walmart’s public image needs to start with worker pay. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union claims most workers at Walmart make less than $9 an hour, on average, which would mean that half of the company’s workers make less than $22,400 a year. That number would put them below the federal poverty line.