Help Wanted. Special Abilities Required.
WANTED: HR Director for Genghis Kahn dba Mongol Hordes.
WANTED: Marriage counselor to Britney Spears.
WANTED: Chargé de Hair for Donald Trump.
WANTED: Spokesperson for Wal-Mart.
Certain jobs just carry a set of challenges that separate them from the average way to earn a paycheck. When Wal-Mart felt the need to add some weight to their stable of PR representatives, a former US Ambassador to the U.N., active civil rights veteran and personal friend of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. seemed like a pretty safe bet. Well, at least it did until Andrew Young broke out with this comment when asked if Wal-Mart was the cause of smaller Mom and Pop stores being run out of business:
Well, I think they should [run them out]; they ran the 'mom and pop' stores out of my neighborhood. But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores. 1
Oops! Was that bad?
Maybe that all-inclusive, non-judgmental kind of talk works at the U.N., but it just won’t fly in the retail world of always-low-prices.
"I think I was on the verge of becoming part of the controversy, and I didn't want to become a distraction from the main issues, so I thought I ought to step down," said Mr. Young.
It warmed several hearts when Young regained his sense of understatement just in time to resign. Oddly enough, at the same moment, the Grand Canyon was on the verge of becoming an example of soil erosion. Who knew?
I Want To Take You Higher
So how much worse is a PR disaster when it is perpetrated by a former Ambassador? High profile, coupled with highly inappropriate, creates an even lower PR dip than “normal”. It cost Mr. Young his job and earned Wal-Mart an extra 136 million negative media impressions to work off in the 90 days that followed.
Vanna, May I have an “S”?
Once Wal-Mart made it clear that stereotyping Jews, Koreans and Arabs as purveyors of wilted produce to the black community was not their official corporate position, they quickly moved to stamp out an even greater threat - the continued insistence of every person over the age of 70 to refer to the company as Wal-Marts with an "s". No word yet if they have hired Yogi Berra2 as Mr. Young's replacement.
Neal Combs learned to write in the first grade. Eventually learning to read during high school, he discovered a variety of deficiencies in his early work, which necessitated the long and torturous job of editing everything previously produced. He is now up to June of 1973. Stay tuned and please disregard any references to President Nixon and Captain Kangaroo. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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