Walmart announced yesterday that former Bush administration official Dan Bartlett will replace Leslie Dach as the company’s spin-master/image-polisher (er, we mean “executive vice president of corporate affairs”). Dach was hired back in 2006 to run a campaign to clean up Walmart’s reputation, make it seem like a friendlier, cuddlier corporate citizen, and build bridges with Democrats. In other words, he’s been an extremely busy man for the last seven years and may need a vacation.
Just who is Bartlett and what can we expect from him when he starts in June?
Bartlett is a long-time George W. Bush acolyte: He spent years working for Bush’s electoral campaigns and administrations, both in Texas and as a strategic communications aide in the White House. Since then, he’s worked in the private sector, heading up a PR firm whose clients have included Goldman Sachs (hired when Lloyd Blankfein “apparently finally noticed that everyone in the world hates Goldman”), AIG (during its government bailout), and a natural gas company seeking a PR leg up after a gas explosion killed an elderly couple.
He’s likely to continue Dach’s work with Walmart’s sustainability (or greenwashing, depending on who you ask) initiatives, as well as its use of the Walmart Foundation as a “lever” in achieving business goals. But he’ll certainly have a lot of other things on his plate as well, given the multiple crises and major reputational threats Walmart faces—the ongoing bribery scandal and federal investigations; factory deaths in Bangladesh; labor troubles in the company’s supply chain, warehouses, and stores.