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Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet of Apes Sell

Wal-Mart says the cross-promotion of the Planet of the Apes movie and black-themed films on it's website was intentional by an employee, but well-meaning. Huh?

A business manager trying to promote "Martin Luther King: I Have a Dream" programmed the site so that shoppers who bought any boxed set also would be offered the movie about the civil rights leader and other black-themed films.

[Background here. Clarification: Crooks and Liars was not saying there was a Wal-Mart conspiracy, just noting the wierdness of the promotion. Hat tip to Patriot Daily.]

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    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#1)
    by Al on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 03:33:39 PM EST
    Does Wal-Mart really expect anyone to believe this? Did they stop to think that honestly admitting a mistake might be better than making stupid excuses?

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#2)
    by pigwiggle on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 03:54:58 PM EST
    “Does Wal-Mart really expect anyone to believe this?”
    Yah, I believe it. It’s a very plausible explanation; they tried to promote some stuff (maybe it wasn’t moving) by suggesting it to folks that purchased some other crap. And I think they admitted it was a mistake. Anyway, if you have any evidence that WM didn’t offer these videos as suggestions to folks browsing all the other box sets I (and every news outlet and blogger) would love to see it.

    On the first thread about this, I marked this up to either a mistake in the site's classification of the film or an insensitive moron that wasn't acting upon a management directive. What this thread is now saying, is that it was indeed a management directive. Irregardless of what this idiot was thinking, his lack of ability to comprehend the ramifications of doing this is by definition insensitive. A pubically owned (meaning GOVERNMENT CHARTERED - GRANTED BY THE PEOPLE) Corporation has a responsibility to consider how it's advertising will be accepted in society. It doesn't matter whether it was short-sighted or intentional. This individual should be immediately fired and Wal Mart should expect a backlash - meaning it should feel an obligation to make some sort of public amends to the African American community. The rest of you can make whatever excuses you want, at which point I refer you to the Dictionary definition of the word insensitive.

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#5)
    by pigwiggle on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 05:21:54 PM EST
    TS- You are way off. As a promotional for Black History Month WM decided to link black history vids to all their box sets. Of the hundreds they linked to one was unfortunately the Planet of the Apes box set. Fine, call me insensitive, but here in the real world unfortunate circumstances occasionally arise from things as large and complicated as WM movie promotion and indexing. Then again, perhaps WM should employ someone to scrutinize all the potential implications of any cross promotion. Apparently there is a legion of ubersensative ninnys waiting to crap a brick over any appearance of insensitivity, even if it’s produced by pure chance.

    That's an interesting defense: "We're not racists, we're liars." Wal-Mart admits that they rigged the "Related Items" feature of their website. The items listed there weren't "related" at all. The space was being used just to push what the company wanted to promote. Whatever works, I guess.

    Apparently there is a legion of ubersensative ninnys waiting to crap a brick over any appearance of insensitivity, even if it’s produced by pure chance.
    First, nothing I've read indicated "pure chance". Second, thanks for calling me a ninny. I'd return the favor, but Talk Left would apparently ban me. Third, ok, I will call you insensitive. I think I've done so before, so there's nothing new here.

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#8)
    by roy on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 06:25:51 PM EST
    QiB,
    Wal-Mart admits that they rigged the "Related Items" feature of their website. The items listed there weren't "related" at all.
    Just a minor point, it's "similar", not "related". Similarity is inherently subjective, and I think everyone knew to read "similar items" as "items we think you'll buy if we call them 'similar items'" anyway. If that's a lie, it's an underwhelming lie. TS, According to the AP writeup here:
    Cast said walmart.com would only start cross-referencing movies again once it has a new system in place to avoid a repeat. That could be a technology more like what Amazon.com uses or another approach, he said.
    Which means they're taking a significant financial hit in missed sales and paying for a new system; is that enough to make up for their "insensitivity"?
    The rest of you can make whatever excuses you want, at which point I refer you to the Dictionary definition of the word insensitive.
    He didn't sense how some would react to one pairing out of several hundred possibilities. So, sure, he was technically insensitive. But I think this issue has as much to do with some anti-Wal-Marters' hypersensitivity as with the manager's lack of it. And Wal-Mart isn't exactly "publicly owned", it's publicly traded. The public can own part of WM if they buy shares, and very many do at least through mutual funds (like me), but it's not public property in the We the People sense. (note: I used to work for Wal-Mart, but I promise I hated the job)

    But I think this issue has as much to do with some anti-Wal-Marters' hypersensitivity
    I occasionally shop at Wal Mart and Sam's Club, so I must not be "hypersensitive". For example, if the offensive combination had been "Deliverance" and the "Billy Graham Omaha Crusade" on VHS, I would have been equally offended by their insensitivity. If the combination had been "Fahrenheit 9/11" and the book "Resume Writing for Dummies", I'd have been offended. You see, I don't find any of that funny. I think some of you find it amusing.
    And Wal-Mart isn't exactly "publicly owned", it's publicly traded.
    Ok, let's review my comment: "A pubically owned (meaning GOVERNMENT CHARTERED - GRANTED BY THE PEOPLE)" Corporatist conservatives and Libertarians always seem to gloss over the fact that Corporations are chartered by State governments. Corporate Charters are subject to revocation by the Government. The Government (is supposed to be) of, by, and for the people. Without charter, there is nothing to be traded on the stock exchange. No allusion to "Publically Traded" was intended, and I understood the difference. It's this reality that makes off-shore incorporation despicable. Corporations get the protections of our laws while doing business in the United States, but then avoid the responsibility of paying for that protection. The burden of paying for that "protection" is left to the American citizen.

    I should've said off shore "re-incorporation" of previously American incorporated organizations.

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#11)
    by Sailor on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 06:57:48 PM EST
    1) I think it is a tempest in a teapot. 2) I expect companies to push their merchandise (e.g. box sets) in a 'similar items' category. 3) I think it was dumb, but not malicious. With a data set that large it is very difficult to see what combinations and permutations might produce. 4) It would have been much more understandable if it was King Kong; at least King Kong has 'King' in the title;-) 5) And this is one of those nitpicky things, 'irregardless' isn't a word. (And it's better to have some anonymous idiot correct you than use it in your professional life and have them correct you, or worse, not correct you;-)

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#12)
    by roy on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 07:24:16 PM EST
    TS,
    For example, if the offensive combination had been "Deliverance" and the "Billy Graham Omaha Crusade" on VHS,
    I wouldn't claim that being offended by combinations requires hypersensitivity. Blindly refusing to accept the plausible "accident" explanation (see Al's comment above) requires hypersensitivity. Thinking that the events described by the Wal-Mart exec require any action beyond an explanation and a fix to prevent a repeat requires hypersensitivity, but I don't know whether you personally think any more is required. And, yes, I misunderstood in what sense you meant "publically owned". Unless there is a law covering this kind of flub, which seems unlikely, I don't think the government charter matters. The government is supposed to let people (including businesspeople) do what they want unless they break the law, yes?
    It's this reality that makes off-shore incorporation despicable. Corporations get the protections of our laws while doing business in the United States, but then avoid the responsibility of paying for that protection.
    There are still several ways in which off-shore incorporated or re-incorporated corps pay tax if they do business in the U.S., albeit less than if U.S.-incorporated. And if paying less taxes makes it wrong to enjoy legal protection, what about individuals who pay little or no federal tax? But IIRC Wal-Mart is incorporated in the U.S. (they paid $5.6 billion in corporate income tax last year) so I won't go further down that tangent.

    ...beyond an explanation and a fix to prevent a repeat requires hypersensitivity, but I don't know whether you personally think any more is required.
    I am not African American. Spending money to fix a technical problem may or may not be prudent, but management is responsible whether he intended to offend his customers or not. If African American groups call for a boycott of Wal-Mart or decide to continue to deride Wal-Mart for this and other transgressions, then it is their decision and their right to do so if they feel they have been wronged.
    The government is supposed to let people (including businesspeople) do what they want unless they break the law, yes?
    These days the laws are written and re-written upon the advice of Corporate managers, so I'd say they unfortunately have little to worry about - even if we're talking about abuse of U.S. and local labor laws. Yes, this particular transgression is a faux pas, not criminal activity. Being exempt from paying Federal taxes because of poverty is not the moral equivalent of Corporate tax evasion and cooking books. Wal-Mart may not be an example of this, but the point was that as a U.S. (state) chartered Corporation, they have a responsibility to U.S. citizens -- in just the same sense that we as U.S. citizens have a responsibility not to abuse one another. Moreso for Corporations since they are continually given rights (via statute and case law) that supersede that of individuals. Those of you that argue against that last point, I believe, need to examine your own values and ask why you'd prefer an apathetic and callous society. Especially in regard to a minority group that has been persecuted and abused for hundreds of years.

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#14)
    by roy on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 08:15:15 PM EST
    TS,
    If African American groups call for a boycott of Wal-Mart ... then it is their decision and their right...
    I agree, 110%. I'll call them hypersensitive when they do, but I won't claim any right to interfere.
    Moreso [responsibiliy] for Corporations since they are continually given rights (via statute and case law) that supersede that of individuals.
    My problem with that is that the corporations are made up of individuals. The corp is a necessary abstraction for convenience, but when we assign them responsibility without considering that somebody has to carry it out and will be held accountable, we ignore an important factor.
    Those of you that argue against that last point, I believe, need to examine your own values and ask why you'd prefer an apathetic and callous society.
    And I would suggest you contemplate the distinction between A) what one would prefer, and B) what one is justified in making others provide through legal or social pressure. I'm pretty sure I've written more on this subject than the AP has, which is a bad sign on the obsession-o-meter, so this is my last post. I've enjoyed the discussion. I tried to keep non-snarky, and I apologize if I failed.

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#15)
    by ltgesq on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 08:23:19 PM EST
    2 things: 1. black history month is february, not january 2. this is the third explanation walmart has given First it was inadvertent, then it was because someone must have purchased the two items together, now its just that they were trying to promote black history month a month early. Remember these were not listed as recommended items, but similar items. If it were posible to check what they said, I'd love to. The problem is that they didn't come up with version 3 until they disabled the system

    Wal-Mart is halting Wal-Mart its on-line movie recommendations
    Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is shutting down the system that creates movie recommendations on its shopping Web site after it linked a "Planet of the Apes" DVD to films about famous black Americans, including Martin Luther King Jr.


    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#16)
    by jimcee on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 08:57:31 PM EST
    Did Wal-Mart do this on purpose? I doubt it because it might hurt sales and the bottom line in business is the bottom line. The only people that Wal-Mart owes anything to is thier shareholders so I doubt that this is anything more than an odd co-incidence. I also would hope they don't use the Amazon model as Amazon comes up with some pretty goofy 'if you like this' references as well. Mostly this does seem that there are a lot of people, some funded by UFCW et al, that will try to blame Wal-Mart for all of the world's problems. The obsession of some folks with a retailer seems unhinged but I guess some folks are easily whipped up into a frenzy over trivial things. If you're offended by Wal-Mart don't shop or work there. It is just that simple.

    roy wrote:
    If that's a lie, it's an underwhelming lie.
    No, it's not a huge lie. It's a little one to be sure. But what corporation likes to admit to telling even little (ahem)white lies to its customers? Amazon got caught doing pretty much the same thing a year or so back. On their website, they added a list of products under a heading, "Customers who bought this product were also interested in..." Somebody at Amazon thought it would be cute to have some fun with that list and put some things that were supposed to be obviously unrelated and put there just for fun. They had to back down quickly due to customer complaints. Wal-Mart must have really felt cornered to figure that admitting to a lie--even a little one--was the company's best option.

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#18)
    by demohypocrates on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 10:16:09 PM EST
    Brush the vitriole off your goggles. Does anyone really think that Walmart , as a greedy multi-billion dollar corporation did this intentionally? "Lets piss off 15 % of our most valued customers, Because its funny!!!" Btw... left flank... you should court more Walmart shoppers than you should insult them. The fact that you dont like a happy Walmart shopper means you wont win another national election.

    I may be a little naïve here but have any of you actually watched Planet of The Apes ? The film deals with racial intolerance, oppression and slavery by allegory. By having a WASP main character in the position of the ‘slave’ it could be argued that it is intended to promote contemplation of that experience by those who are usually identified as the perpetrators of it. In fact the apes are, in the US context, the white, slave owning population. In the course of the film the main character gains a voice, and through struggle and self sacrifice gains his freedom. What’s the problem here ?

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#20)
    by pigwiggle on Sun Jan 08, 2006 at 09:08:22 AM EST
    Ltgesq-
    “1. black history month is february, not january 2. this is the third explanation walmart has given”
    Re 1; my local WM advertised Christmas paraphernalia in October. Three or four weeks prior doesn’t seem abnormal. Re 2; I’ve only read one response. First, it was a computer generated link, then further clarification on how the link was generated. And these items were related in that they are things WM wants to sell you. If this was something like Amazon’s ‘people who bought _ also bought _’ they had fixed there might be a story. Charliedoesntgetit10-
    “Gee, Tampa Student, evidently we have a real live "I'm not a racist but,...boy" in our midst. … That the likes o'you don't get there's a problem for openers.”
    Classic; avoid the points and go straight to the ad homonym. Jimcee-
    “The only people that Wal-Mart owes anything to is thier shareholders so I doubt that this is anything more than an odd co-incidence.”
    Hear, hear. Is that you Miton?

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#21)
    by pigwiggle on Sun Jan 08, 2006 at 04:24:21 PM EST
    “Yeah, all sales and marketing campaigns are just like Christmas. Nice try. That's why they call it Christmas.”
    Huh?
    “The point is you have no points to avoid. It's like teaching your kid to drive in the middle of the Bonneville Salt Flats.”
    Sure, I made several points; essentially that WM’s explanation is simple and plausible. The more simple an explanation the more likely. WM has two fixtures of their explanation; a desire to sell some black history vids and a means, their promotion. All the alternative explanations I’ve heard this far are especially conspiratorial and necessarily complicated.

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#22)
    by jimcee on Sun Jan 08, 2006 at 08:39:03 PM EST
    Pigwiggle, No I'm not Miton (?) just an honest smuck that refuses to believe that WM or any retail outlet would go out of thier way to offend thier customers, a co-incidence is all that makes sense. Although Snodgrass' thought is interesting. By the way, if you don't feed the pidgeons they won't won't stay around for long. Lately this place is starting to be like St Mark's Square in Venice, lots of pidgeon sh*t. Try not to feed them, please. ;).

    If African American groups call for a boycott of Wal-Mart or decide to continue to deride Wal-Mart for this and other transgressions, then it is their decision and their right to do so if they feel they have been wronged.
    And if the groups calling for a boycott announce that Wal-Mart is a racist organization, does Wal-Mart have the right to sue them for slander or libel?

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#24)
    by pigwiggle on Mon Jan 09, 2006 at 08:25:23 AM EST
    “No I'm not Miton”
    Sorry, I meant Milton. Milton Friedman is famous (or perhaps infamous) for saying exactly that. I happen to agree.

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#25)
    by pigwiggle on Mon Jan 09, 2006 at 08:45:05 AM EST
    CDS10-
    “your contention that Wal-mart plans and executes their Black History Month promos as far out as they do Christmas promotions is patently absurd.”
    My contention was that 3 or 4 weeks didn’t seem excessive in light of the 10 or 12 week run up to Christmas.
    “So what? Just 'cause an explanation's simple doesn't make it a good explanation.”
    No, what I said was it was simple and therefore plausible. The more simple an explanation the more likely it is. It’s just the way things are; a plain but very useful feature of the world. “Multiples should never be useful if not necessary”, Occam’s razor, codified in the 14th century by the Franciscan friar William of Ockham. Some folks just know the world and are lead by their faith, others are reduced to using more base tools; reason, logic.

    Re: Wal-Mart Claims 'Good Intentions' Over Planet (none / 0) (#26)
    by pigwiggle on Mon Jan 09, 2006 at 09:13:00 AM EST
    “Ah, so now it's your contention that there's a world of difference between a good explanation and a plausible explanation in this context, eh?”
    Well, I’m still waiting for you to give details about why it’s a poor explanation. All you have done this far is dance around the point. You’ve claimed there is not point, which is ridiculous, as I’ve outlined it in painstaking detail. You’ve insinuated that anyone who disagrees with you is a racist. All you have done of any substance is mischaracterize a single peripheral issue; when it’s appropriate to begin advertising for any particular holiday. So here it is, once more. MW explanation has but two features; they want to sell some stuff, and they had a promotional means. Simple, plausible, very believable. You got anything better, or just more chatter?