Wal-Mart Advertisements

There's an interesting Q&A in today's Stuart Elliott column in the NY Times:

A Reader Asks: I have a question regarding Wal-Mart's advertising. Do you know if Wal-Mart actually uses employees in its ads or does it hire actors?

I've wondered about this myself. Are there really all these happy people working at Wal-Mart? Elliott's response:

The people appearing in the television commercials and print advertisements for Wal-Mart Stores are actual employees, according to Wal-Mart and its agencies. Such ads have been appearing more frequently as part of efforts by Wal-Mart to counter critics who charge the company does not offer its employees adequate health care or other benefits.

So they're really employees. But I'm still not buying that Wal-Mart is such a great place to work.


Posted on Tue May 10, 2005


How does using employees in it's ads and commercials counter critics claims that it doesn't offer its' employees adequate health care or other benefits???

Seems to me like just another effort to increase profits... instead of paying union wages to professional actors and models they can just get their own employees to do it for $12 per hour or whatever...
Posted by Mark-N-Isa  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  10:48 PM
Well, when you have as many employees as they do, it's not that hard to find a few brain-damaged individuals who actually think they're working at a great job. Best part is, you can pay them in dead squirrels and shiny bits of tinfoil, and they'll be happy...
Posted by Bobcat  on  Tue May 10, 2005  at  11:32 PM
Mark-N-Jen said:

"How does using employees in it's ads and commercials counter critics claims that it doesn't offer its' employees adequate health care or other benefits???"

Well, it doesn't--at least not in any LOGICAL way. I've recently come to the conclusion that the REAL schism in our society is between those who take things at face value and those of us who at least TRY to look beneath the surface.

How many people do you know, or have seen on TV, who say things like, "That George Bush is a regular guy" because he talks about liking barbecue or whatever? Yup, a "regular" guy who was born into wealth, went to private schools, whose Dad got him into the National Guard, etc.

They see a guy who struggles with the language--like they themselves do, perhaps--and ignore all the evidence to the contrary of the conclusion they've already drawn.

Same with Wal-Mart. The evidence is ample that they no longer adhere to founder Sam Walton's idea of "buying American," that they lobby legislators to allow them to pay workers as little as possible, etc. Put a couple of happy, smiling employees in the ads, though, and they MUST be a wonderful employer and corporation. Throw an American flag or two in there and it's a FACT, Jack. Duh.

You're allowed to see the surface of things for a reason: it's the nicest-looking part.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  02:08 AM
Although if you spend all your time looking too deep and ignore everything near the surface, you're still only getting a partial picture.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  03:21 AM
i work @ Wal-Mart and it's not that bad. The worst part about it is the customers. Some people are so stupid. But our managers are great.
Posted by nikki  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  05:26 AM
I don't know... after seeing those "Girls of Wal-mart" in Playboy, I think I'd like to work there.
Posted by Joe  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  06:55 AM
An Ex G/F of mine worked there and she didn't like it much.....But ofcoarse she was stuck behind a register allday. At least that convinced her to go to college.
Posted by X  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  07:33 AM
Here is the truth about Walmart:
Posted by Sheldon Reynolds  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  08:04 AM
I think it depends on the job. I had a minimum wage job, and NO benefits. I still LIKED my job. I had a lot of fun. Sure, customers are annoying, but aren't we all customers as some point??

If you wanted a better job, you should have gone to college like your mommy said, and gotten a degree, so you could have been in charge at the wal-mart, instead of re-stocking baby food.
Posted by Maegan  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  09:32 AM
Stephen says:
"At least that convinced her to go to college."
Maegan says:
"...you should have gone to college like your mommy said..."

That kinda says it all. I spent 10 years working in sawmills in British Columbia. Hated every minute. Noisy, dusty, 95 above in summer and 40 below in winter. I still remember the one night it was -52F. I said to myself, "Self, what am I doing here? There's got to be a better way to make a living." And you know, there is. Get an education!
Perhaps all high school students should be required to spend a semester at some real shit job so they see what it's like. And I'm not talking about at Walmart where it's heated in winter and air-conditioned in summer. The point has to be driven home that there are no rewards in life unless you earn them. The world does not owe you a decent wage if you choose to make a career out of an unskilled job. The reward for that philosophy is "minimum wage".
Even Niki, who works there, says the worst thing is the customers. Those customers are the consumers who force retailers to be the way they are by demanding the absolute lowest price and best service. But they sure like to bitch about how the company treats the employees.
I know some of the people I worked with at those sawmills years ago are still there. That thought keeps me doing whatever I have to, to ensure I won't be with them.
Posted by Captain Al  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  09:58 AM
Okay, now Wal-Mart is not the best place to work, but Disneyland is worse by a long shot and so are many other places I've worked for.

And to be fair, of all of them I have to say wal-mart provides the most usefulness.

About the not-offering benefit point of view, I'm guessing it's to offer its employees gigs like posing for ads as an bonus and additional source of income. When I used to work for Home Depot I auditioned for serveral of commercials for them.
Posted by Tom  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  10:22 AM
Right-o. I really was going to go to school. I took a year off (parent approved), tried to get admitted to a community college. Had my plan for being a certified nurse midwife...and then was practically shown the door when I mentioned "homeschool". And a few months later I was pregnant. See what happens when you don't go to school??

You end up pregnant! That goes for you boys too! Stay in school. Don't get pregnant.
Posted by Maegan  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  10:29 AM
...Don't do drugs.
Posted by Boo  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  10:48 AM
...or, if you do drugs, do the ones which do the most damage to you, by the numbers, namely alcohol and tobacco.
Posted by cvirtue  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  01:16 PM
Well, which would you rather have-- health care, a pension, decent pay, and safe working conditions, or a one-time appearance in an advertising circular?

Obviously, Wal-Mart really cares about its employees (and you and me).
Posted by Big "You can call me Large" Gary in Dallas  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  04:40 PM
Joe sez:
I don't know... after seeing those "Girls of Wal-mart" in Playboy, I think I'd like to work there."

I know what you mean, Joe. Sometimes I, too, wonder what it would be like to work at Playboy.
Posted by Big Gary in Dreamland  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  04:42 PM
In response to Bobcat's comments on Walmart, I have to say that in Wales the Asda/Walmart company offers employment and good value shopping in an otherwise deprived area. To refer the employees as 'brain-damaged individuals' is evidence enough that Bobcat is so far out of touch with the real world one has to ask the question 'Did he go to the same school as George Bush?' Our local Asda/Walmart store actually runs a program which trains people with learning difficulties in order to offer them an alternative to state benefits. They are given opportunities they would otherwise fail to achieve. I agree that there should be a fairer distribution of profit related bonus' and a higher hourly rate of pay, but don't knock the people who work there, many rely on it as their only source of income. Filling shelves isn't rocket science but if they didn't do it you'd soon complain and maybe then appreciate their worth. You don't have to have a degree to take pride in your work. It would seem that the majority of Walmart employees are 'Happy to Help' despite the crap wages and the thankless task of making sure that everything is on hand for big minded shites like Bobcat.
Posted by thoren  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  05:19 PM
well i know for a fact that Safeway uses actors, because i was in 2 adverts for them in the UK.
Posted by Steve  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  05:22 PM
I'm a college student that works at a Wal-Mart... so... there... lol
Posted by nikki  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  07:04 PM
Tom said:

"About the not-offering benefit point of view, I'm guessing it's to offer its employees gigs like posing for ads as an bonus and additional source of income. When I used to work for Home Depot I auditioned for serveral of commercials for them."

So, a few employees making a one-time appearance in a commercial somehow makes up for the fact that many of them don't have health care or a pension, etc.? I'm not following your logic here (assuming you're not joking, that is).
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  07:06 PM
Accipiter said:

"Although if you spend all your time looking too deep and ignore everything near the surface, you're still only getting a partial picture."

Well, the thing to do (and what I was suggesting) is to look at the surface and see if what underlies that contradicts or supports it. The surface will almost always be what "they" (whoever the specific "they" happens to be in a given case) WANTS you to see. The underlying stuff is what they DON'T want you to see.

It's comparing the two that gives you the REAL story.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  07:09 PM
The point I was trying to make wasn't wal-mart is nice and thoughtful to their employees. I was merely offering some, and in this case, weak, arguement on walmart's side for discussing purposes.

So, compare to similar places like let's say, Target, how does Walmart match up? Does Target offer any benefits? What about the difference in wages? (They're questions, I don't know what Target offers.)
Posted by Tom  on  Wed May 11, 2005  at  09:26 PM
Benefits can also be determined by status. If you're part time, you probably won't get benefits. Working 39 hours a week, is still part time. You've got to be working 40 hours a week for it to be considered full time.

Even then, you may have to have a full time status for X period before being eligable. Companies do it to keep from having to pay for benefits for people who work 2 hours a week. My company pays about $350 total EVERY 2 WEEKS for my benefits. I pay $78 for medical, $8 for dental, and $12 for vision. Our Medical is for the whole fam, dental/vis is just for hubby & myself...didn't think baby would need covg until she was about 2 for dental, vision, maybe 4.

So it's really a cost effective thing. Is it worth is to pay $700/month for someone who works 12 hours a month. If that were the case...they're probably ONLY doing it for the benefits.

I don't blame them. It means that children's close are cheaper than Baby Gap, and if the employees wanted benefits, as mentioned before, they should go to school to be eligable for a job that will give them benefits.
Posted by Maegan  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  06:34 AM
Oh...and b/c of the high turnover rate of minimum wage employees, just keeping up with the paperwork would be hell.

Think about this; you hire 30 employees in one month, by month 3, you've replaced them all once. That's 60 employees in 2 months. You'd have to file hiring docs, benefit docs, 90 day evals, then an exit interview w/ docs at then end FOR EACH EMPLOYEE. Termination of benefits docs as well. What's that? You had benefits from your job? Here's some KOBRA paperwork to fill out, if you'd like to keep your benefits.

So just the manpower it would take to do all that is atrocious.
Posted by Maegan  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  06:40 AM
There are no Wal-Marts in The Land Of My Birth. We would not allow all these things from China to be sold there. Communist-consumerism is a bad thing. I would pay more for the Ramonian products, so I did not help to build the China tanks and missles. Wal-mart should be named "Great Wall-Mart", like the Great Wall in China. My Llama compadres call it "Wally's", but they do like the advertising circulars. They laugh greatly at all the estupid people in the pictures. Why are they all so fat? Rrrraoul
Posted by Raoul  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  08:31 AM
Something along the same vein as Walmart. I worked for a union deli in a supermarket. One of the times our contract came up for renewal, the company wanted to slash our benefits and create a second tier of worker that got drastically less than we did. We went on strike to prevent it. All we wanted was what we had at the time. Well, there was an IBM plant down the street that hired programmers as "temps". They worked them until they were a few hours short of when they were required to hire them permanently then let them go. They then rehired them as temps the very next week. They were able to pay these people about $8/hour. The programmers were visibly upset at us for striking. The most often used statement was "How dare you strike?! You get paid one and a half times as much as we do, with great benefits, for working in a deli! I went to college for what I do!" I always countered with "Why should we feel guilty for making a decent wage? Why not demand higher pay and fairer treatment from your employer rather than ask us to give up what we've worked hard for?" It totally amazed me.

There will always be people that will be willing to work for less, so Walmart and companies like them will always be able to pay what they want. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is. People say that there is no longer any need for unions. I disagree. And before you come up with somethig about how being in a union allows you to stand around and do nothing, remember that there are bad apples in any situation. Some people will take advantage of the rules to work less, but just as many people will appreciate what the union does for them and work hard.

*End of rant* :zip:
Posted by Silentz  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  08:40 AM
I go to Walmart, and I've seen some of the people on the commercials. I get their autographs. Got me Edna Srickland, Boots McGee, and Elmer Dingle (before the stroke- it's legible and worth more). Anybody if you ever get Geraldine Jones from the 2003 "family values" Labor Day half off commercial, I'm ready to make an offer. Let's trade....
Posted by booch  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  10:09 AM

Silentz, my hubby's former employer did that. They started firing people that made $13/hr, and hired temps for $8. The same temps didn't always get hired back...but my husband left before it got really out of hand.
Posted by Maegan  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  10:25 AM
Maegan, I had never heard of the practice until then. It made me kinda mad. I thought "Maybe you should unionize...." But, like Walmart's anti-union stance, I'm sure that any attempt at unionizing would have been met with a sudden lack of work for the temp programmers.
Posted by Silentz  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  10:45 AM
Maegan said:

"Benefits can also be determined by status. If you're part time, you probably won't get benefits. Working 39 hours a week, is still part time. You've got to be working 40 hours a week for it to be considered full time."

Well, that's how it's usually defined, but not by Wal-Mart. As Jon Stewart of The Daily Show pointed out recently, Wal-Mart defines 29 hours a week as "full-time." That helps them raise the percentage of workers they can claim as full-time employees. That, of course, does not mean that those "full-time" employees receive the kind of benefits you might expect.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sat May 14, 2005  at  03:44 AM
When life gives you a lemon (Or, in this case, a job at Wal-Mart), just make lemonade.

Take, for instance, the tech department at our local Wal-Mart a few years back. Practically the entire department was caught in a sting operation selling tech items (game consoles, games, TVs, etc.) stolen from the store THAT THEY WORKED IN! This had gone on for YEARS! From what I understand, they made quite a bit of dough.

I also heard of another Wal-Mart where someone set up a drug manufacturing operation - Right in the store! Everyone always wondered why he enjoyed working double-shifts...
Posted by Anonymous  on  Sat May 14, 2005  at  08:57 AM
When I worked at a video store, I used to eat the "damaged" candy. Also, we had a policy that if someone returned a single item 3 times (vhs, dvd) then it was obviously damaged. We would take them out of inventory & throw them away [into my car]. Usually, the item 'didn't work', b/c it was a stupid movie. Or because people don't know how to work their players properly. Whatever, thanks to them I own Kpax, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, Replacement Killers, another movie whose name I forget that has orange writing on the front, Little Mermaid 2 (VHS), Cinderella 2 (VHS), Goonies (VHS), and a few video games that I don't have the titles to, b/c my husband thought they were too stupid to play.
Posted by Maegan  on  Sun May 15, 2005  at  10:24 AM
I like your site but get frustrated at your liberal bias. I work for Wal-Mart and have for 15 year. I enjoy what I do and the people I work with and for. If so many people are unhappy they are free to go find another job.
Posted by davedavis  on  Thu May 19, 2005  at  08:12 AM

Damn us liberals...
Wanting fair pay and benefits.
Posted by Boo  on  Tue May 24, 2005  at  10:36 AM
Wal-Mart is a terrible place to work and shop. Google "anti-Wal-Mart" and see.
Posted by Soonerthought  on  Mon Jul 25, 2005  at  09:37 PM
I am looking to find Trevor from one of the more recent ads. If anyone knows his info or his wearabouts please contact me. He isnt a Wal-Mart employee but an actor who pretends to shop in the commercial. Or if you know info for who films those commercials let me know. I need to find him... Thanks--Kelly
Posted by Kelly  on  Tue Jul 26, 2005  at  11:15 AM
Hi Guys,

Just a quick one! I can confirm the Wal*Mart use actual employees in their ads!! How do I know: I work for ASDA and I have just come home from filming the ASDA 2005 Christmas Commercial, one thing for sure: no actors!!!!
Posted by An ASDA Worker  on  Mon Oct 10, 2005  at  09:20 AM

Hi there, i was an actor in a recent asda commercial that filmed with Santa out there in Basingstoke.

The company who filmed it is ANNEX FILMS, they are based in Dean Street, in SOHO. Just google them to get a contact number.

Posted by Jefferson NE King  on  Mon Oct 24, 2005  at  09:28 AM
Walmart is a horrible place to work. I used to be one of their employees. I just don't see why or how they would be using real employees for these commercials. If you really think about it, it doesn't seem likely at all.
Posted by Rachel  on  Tue Jan 10, 2006  at  12:39 PM
Walmart should be renamed ChinaMart, because just about everything, if not everything, comes from there! We who shop at Walmart are helping to make China the mega-superpower it's becoming. stamp a smiley face on my butt and teach me Chinese! Factually yours, Christina
Posted by Christina  on  Sat Jun 10, 2006  at  03:56 PM
I'm right here at Walmart, wa bored so I went on Google. And, actually I was told they are actors. :[ This disappointed me greatly.
Posted by DatapawWolf  on  Sat Oct 20, 2012  at  06:26 PM
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