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.”

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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.