Wal-Mart’s Spurned Ex

For 32 years, until Julie Roehm walked in the door, Kansas City’s Bernstein-Rein took the lead on the Wal-Mart ad account.
This fascinating article in The Pitch (a local KC publication) traces the history of the account:

Walton had chosen Bernstein-Rein for one reason: a simple ad he’d seen for the now-defunct Milgram Food Stores. It featured “Janie from Milgram’s,” who did nothing more in the commercial than list that week’s deals. Walton knew that as his company went national, he wanted commercials that looked as if they’d been produced by a local store owner. When Walton arrived at Bernstein-Rein, he had one request: “I want Janie.”
Agency co-founder Bob Bernstein wasn’t immediately impressed by Walton. Bernstein, who’s now 66, recalls telling Walton that actress Janie Fopeano wasn’t for hire. “You can’t have Janie. She’s under contract.”
After Walton got in his pickup and headed back to Bentonville, Arkansas, the first thing that Bernstein did was call his accountant. “Check this guy out,” he said. “Find out if he’s for real.”

The rest is history. Maybe Bernstein (or GSD&M, which also did work for Wal-Mart) will get another shot and keep some of the business now that Roehm’s gone. At the very least, they know how not to push the ol’ envelope.
Like I said, it’s a great article, worth a read.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. This quote was recently printed in The Pitch Magazine (Dec 7th, 2006) Kansas City:
    “Inside Bernstein-Rein, employees grumbled about representing Wal-Mart. Jeff Bremser, who has been Bernstein’s chief creative director for the past 30 years, says Wal-Mart lost its moral focus when Walton died. “Wal-Mart had changed,” Bremser says. “Wal-Mart used to be a very honest company. They were never involved in any trickery under Sam.”
    As a small business owner and stock holder in Wal*Mart I would never consider hiring an agency who goes on record to say that the company they are representing is dishonest and immoral as well as involved in trickery.

  2. Those comments were made long after Wal-Mart fired BR.

  3. In response to Kyle Rohde’s comment:
    Bernstein-Rein was indeed still the advertising agency for Wal-Mart when this quote was made.