The Day That Wal-Mart Dropped the Smiley Face Essay

4437 Words Dec 21st, 2011 18 Pages
Case I
The Day That Wal-Mart Dropped the Smiley Face

Retail giant wal-mart annually spends close to a half billion dollars on advertising, so the company’s decision in the first month of 2005 to run full-page ads in more than 100 newspapers was not really surprising. What was surprising was the copy in those ads, which said nothing about low-priced toasters or new music CDs. Instead, the ads featured a photo of workers in their blue Wal-Mart smocks and a letter from Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott. Scott’s letter was blunt and to the point: “When special interest groups and critics spread misinformation about Wal-Mart, the public deserves to hear the truth. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions about our company, but they are not
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The trend really began among young Asian Americans, who typically bough t inexpensive Asian import cars and then spent thousands of dollars customizing them. The hobby has spread to other young people, so that today Asian Americans are a minority of tuners. But Japanese brands remain the cars of choice among those dedicated to creating a work of art on wheels. Explaining the idea of a “no paint” option, Jim Farley, Scion general manager, says, “As much as possible, we want to give them [tuners] a black canvas.”

What does a tuner do with his car? He (or she; women make up almost 20 percent of the tuner subculture) might take a basic Honda, add a large and loud exhaust system, paint the intake manifolds, and add ride-lowering springs. Other popular add-ons are technologies that increase vehicle speed, like turbochargers, superchargers, and nitrous kits. And there are some serious bucks involved. The Specialty Equipment Market Association estimates that auto after-market spending (spending on car accessories after the original car purchase) increased from $295 million in 1997 to 2.3 $billion in 2002. The motivation? “ You build a car for yourself,” says one day install on Acura RSX Type-S engine into his Honda Civic. “ The satisfaction is in making it your own and knowing that nobody will ever have something that’s the same.”

The amount of money tuners spend is reason enough to attract the attention of marketers. GM hoped to interest

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