Wal-Mart Mulls Adding Community Newspapers to Ad Strategy

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- In response to criticism from publishers at regional newspapers across the country, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. here recently placed full-page advertisements in 336 Midwestern newspapers as a test for a possible change in its newspaper advertising policy.

The Associated Press reported that Wal-Mart will monitor the test to see whether the ads increase sales and traffic at its 218 stores in those newspapers' areas. If there's a significant return, the company might incorporate the local papers into its ad strategy, she said, adding that it could also be a form of good will to local communities.

Wal-Mart hasn't traditionally advertised locally because it's an EDLP retailer and doesn't need to promote specials, and has had strong customer traffic without the ads, A spokeswoman said. She said Wal-Mart would consider advertising locally on the basis of community relations, too.

In other Wal-Mart-related news, WakeUpWalMart.com has joined with 65 faith-based leaders across the country to call on Wal-Mart and c.e.o. Lee Scott to "change for the better" during the holidays. The leaders signed a joint letter to Scott, calling on Wal-Mart "to change, to become better, and to embrace the best of American values." The letter is part of a new faith-based grassroots and multimedia campaign, named "Light a Candle for Change," launched by WakeUpWalMart.com, a union-led group mounting a negative national campaign against Wal-Mart.

As part of this new campaign, the families and children of supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com will be holding local candlelight vigils at Wal-Marts in at least 27 cities in 19 different states, including Oregon, Kentucky, Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, and Illinois, the group said.

The faith-based grassroots initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com will also include a coordinated online and TV multimedia campaign. The 30-second TV ad, which asks, "Should People of Faith Shop at Wal-Mart?", will be running in six states, including Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia.
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