One of last week’s web sensations was People of Wal-Mart, a photo-blog featuring candid, mocking, in-store pictures of unusual Wal-Mart customers. The site is up and down thanks to its instant popularity, but think torn wife-beater shirts, mullets and the morbidly overweight. Here’s a nice quote from Associated Content:
What? No. Can’t be. Too simple. No way. Someone came up with a blog theme that 1) makes me laugh, 2) doesn’t cost me anything, and 3) raises my self-esteem, self-worth, and feelings of superiority over my fellow human beings (term used loosely)? “People of WalMart” is simply genius. Or cruel. Or genius.
Julie pointed out that the blog isn’t really “People of Wal-Mart”, it’s “People of America”. The photos on the blog depict the country’s underbelly, not just the store’s.
Crisis Communications, Redneck Style
What would you do if you were Wal-Mart? Ignore/Encourage/Sic the hounds on these guys?
It’s a good question. The site is getting a lot of attention–reportedly “250,000 hits per hour”–and Time magazine covered it on their site. Siccing the legal team on a blog is rarely a good idea, so I’d wouldn’t take that approach. I certainly wouldn’t encourage the blog, either, as it’s clearly ridiculing Wal-Mart’s customers.
What other avenues do they have? Strike back with a ‘The Customers We Love’ blog on their own site? That seems like protesting too much. How about inviting some of these funny-looking punters to a media event? Not wise, as these people are certainly outliers, and you wouldn’t want to intimidate the more, shall we say, average customers.
When you get media inquiries, I think you reply with a statement about “being proud of all our customers”. Besides that, though, I’d go with “ignore, and hope it goes away”. That’s not really a winning strategy, but I can’t think of a better option. What would you do?