Walmart was facing growing pressure from organized labor to unionize its workforce, which included the creation of several advocacy groups established solely to attack the retailer on a daily basis. Both nationally and regionally, labor advocates were seeking to tarnish the company’s brand, limit the development of new stores and impose legislative barriers impacting Walmart’s operations.

With a loyal customer base of millions, Walmart ultimately felt compelled to speak out and demonstrate the true benefits that the company provides to employees and consumers on a daily basis. To be successful, Walmart retained our firm to unveil the initiative and position the “Working Families for Walmart” organization.

The Solution: We executed a strategy that positioned a national steering committee made up of diverse community leaders to unveil the organization. Members of the steering committee included small business owners, homemakers, retirees, religious leaders and local activists. A national poll of consumer perceptions about Walmart was commissioned and released in tandem with the national launch. At the same time, several regional media and community outreach initiatives led by specific steering committee members were launched in targeted geographic regions.

The underlying strategy for these initiatives was to bring company employees and customers into the debate by allowing them a forum to tell their own stories about working or shopping at Walmart. Understanding that while opponents seemed intent on indiscriminately attacking the company to advance a political agenda, attacking workers, consumers and community leaders who overwhelmingly championed the Walmart would further turn public opinion against organized labor’s efforts.

Results: Underscored by the findings of the poll, “Working Families for Walmart” received significant national coverage upon its launch, including prominent print and broadcast commentary. Additionally, the regional outreach initiatives garnered enormous local coverage, helping to spur subsequent interest and lay the groundwork needed to build a sustainable grassroots network. The efforts and influence of the organization continue to be utilized today as part of several ongoing legislative debates taking place in Congress and state legislatures.