Dubious Claim Du Jour

Eat more food to become skinny.
Or, shop Wal-Mart and save your family $2500 annually. It’s a claim the Arkansas-based retailer has been making in its ads.
According to The New York Times the claim dates to 2005, when Wal-Mart, under mounting criticism from unions and elected leaders over its business practices, commissioned a study of its economic impact on Americans.
An outside firm, paid by Wal-Mart, found that the company’s emphasis on low prices led to a 3 percent decline in overall consumer prices. That translated into $287 billion in savings in 2006, or $2,500 a household, whether a family shops at Wal-Mart or a competitor.
Sadly, fuzzy math is becoming standard practice in business today. Where Wal-Mart went wrong, is using this favorable, but suspect, data for the basis of an ad campaign that specifically tells shoppers they’ll be able to buy a used car or take that long dreamed about vacation, when they choose to shop Wal-Mart.
The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus says, “the advertiser provided no support (for the claim) and, in fact, conceded that there was none.”



About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.