In the face of mounting worker protests (not to mention business operations problems and that whole bribery investigation thing), Walmart is allegedly going on a “charm offensive,” trying to repair its banged-up reputation.
But some elements of this charm offensive are just plain weird. For instance:
Who knows the truth about worker protests? If you guessed “workers,” nope, sorry, try again. In advance of nationwide protests on September 5, Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg referred reporters to a Fox News segment with former presidential candidate Herman “Uz-beki-beki-stan-stan” Cain if they want to know “what’s really going on.” It doesn’t bode well for Walmart’s charm offensive if company flacks are looking to Herman Cain (obviously a paragon of credibility) to carry the company’s message. (Cain, by the way, bungled the facts on COO Gisel Ruiz’s career history during his TV appearance.)
Meanwhile, some bizarre things are coming out of Walmart’s Washington, DC press operation:
In DC, Walmart obsessively fought the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA), a bill passed by the City Council which would require a wage hike for employees of large retail establishments. Last week, the company’s senior director of communications, Steven Restivo, sent an anti-living wage missive to reporters with the subject line “LRAA = U.S.S.R.” Uh…okay. The Washington Post decided that Restivo’s email marked the moment at which the debate about Walmart entering DC had jumped the shark. Indeed.
When senior communications director Restivo is not sending mass emails to reporters, he is responding to op-eds in college newspapers, sending point-by-point rebuttals to local bloggers, and bashing the internship program at liberal magazine The Nation. If senior communications directors are on college student, blogger, and reporter-spamming duties, dare we ask what a junior communications director does?