Wal-Mart Frames The Message To Perfection

Cal Berkeley linguist, George Lakoff, talks eloquently about how politicians frame their messaging to achieve intended results. Those of us in the ad biz also know a little something about the practice of framing.
For a great example of framing, let’s look at Wal-Mart. The world’s largest retailer is running a documentary-style TV spot right now that zooms in on Gastonia, NC. In the spot we hear from local merchants ecstatic about all the traffic the local Wal-Mart store generates for their businesses, which happen to be located directly in the path of said traffic. If this argument is to be believed, Wal-Mart is good for small town America, for it throws off residual income to any and all in its path like a moneyed tornado.
But we never hear from the merchants who have long made up the town center. How do they feel about losing income to the low-priced giant on the periphery? Wal-Mart knows precisely how they feel, which is why they created the spot–to fight the growing community-level resistance to their never ending expansion.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Until Americans decide the lowest price is not in their best interests, Wal-Mart will continue to expand. And, since no one likes paying higher prices for ANYTHING, that decision is not likely to occur in our lifetime.