Wal-Mart: Andrew Young turns a great strategy into bad news

August 24, 2006

Wal-Mart’s hiring of Andrew Young was a brilliant strategy. The former Mayor of Atlanta and US Ambassador to the United Nations had the pedigree, credibility and presence to make a difference in Wal-Mart’s badly needed efforts to boost its public image. The fact that attack sites like http://blog.wakeupwalmart.com/ had a real problem with Andrew Young demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach. Here’s the anti-Wal-Mart attack blog’s comments about Young.

The problem is, Andrew Young stepped in it big time–and in a way that plays to whatever perceptions opponents and fencesitters might have of Wal-Mart. His comments were racist and sounded like they would come from an Archie Bunker type rather than from such a distinguished African-American leader. Even through the effort to put them in context, it is hard to avoid the inherent racist overtones of the statements. Young was right to resign. Wal-Mart was right to distance themselves from him. And there has to be a lot of headscratching going on in Bentonville right now, saying, “Now what?” Now what indeed.

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