Five radio stations in St. Louis are refusing Wal-Mart’s demand that they pull ads critical of the company’s labor practices. The ads, sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 655, discuss working conditions, wages, and lack of health care at Wal-Mart stores. Wal-Mart claims the ads are false and misleading, but the UFCW stands behind their accuracy.
Wal-Mart appears increasingly concerned about its public image. Constance Hays recently reported in the New York Times that the company has hired consultants to examine its image and commissioned ads to counter criticism from community groups and labor unions. "It is the first time that Wal-Mart, known for parsimony in its business practices, has invested in "reputation research" . . . and then spent more money to try to repair the distressing aspects of what it found," Hays wrote.
The company is currently running three national television ads that feature female employees talking about the benefits of working for Wal-Mart. Presumably the ads are designed to counter negative publicity stemming from a large gender discrimination suit filed against the retailer.
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