marketing-promotion
marketing-promotion

When Do Scandals Sting?

It's the X factor. Scandals and bad publicity of any sort have evolved into one of lifestyle marketing's biggest mysteries.

That could spell trouble for Wal-Mart, twice burned in the Nineties for sweatshop sourcing of its Kathie Lee apparel. The retail behemoth is under fire from the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, which is trying to unionize the chain — which trades on a down-home, America-first image but has fought hard to keep unions from all of its stores. The average employee at Wal-Mart stores earns less than $9 an hour. "The question facing Wal-Mart is how consumers will view its effort to fight unionization of their company, which employs one million people," projected Diane Hamilton, a partner in Boston-based Retail Value Consultants. "The question is also whether the union is strong enough to do it. But if the union makes its mind up, it could get really nasty, stir some bad PR, and put a hiccup in the juggernaut."

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