Like many things associated with Wal-mart, their TV commercials are really annoying. When they started their new campaign around two years ago, there were a lot of people offended by Wal-mart’s assertion that “Christmas costs less” there. This inferred that Christmas actually had some sort of price tag that could be discounted. Granted, these are the same people who likely complained that “The Holidays” were being used in place of Christmas. Of course, you can’t please everybody.
I’m watching something on TV the other night and saw an ad that they are running now for Halloween. Of course, it implies that Halloween costs less there. But something else has always struck me as odd in these commercials, and it wasn’t until this one that I really caught on to what it was. In that commercial, you see someone holding a big Halloween party that has tons of decorations, a buffet of food and candy, and costumes for everybody. Something is wrong with this picture, and most viewers of it probably won’t catch it.
Who is going to spend that much on Halloween, buying that much useless crap? Granted, there are a lot of people who have spent that much and will continue to do so. But really, only because this ad communicates to them that it’s okay for them to keep doing it. What’s really underhanded about the ad is that it implies that you already planned on spending that much on useless Halloween items. Of course, you’ll save money if you buy it at Wal-mart. But you’ll save even more money once you realize you don’t need to buy that stuff. The ad focuses on the discounts you’ll get at Wal-mart, but perhaps the real message of the ad is the one that it doesn’t really spell out clearly. It infers that you already planned on buying a large quantity of candy, decorations and costumes. Since you just remembered that you need to buy that much junk, you might as well do it at Wal-mart since they said it’s cheaper.
I used to be a Wal-mart apologist. Sure, they produced everything in sweatshops. Sure, they run local shops out of business. Sure, they do everything they can to prevent unions and keep wages down. But they continue to offer a cheap and efficient way of buying everything you need in one place. At some point you realize that the personal benefits aren’t worth it. And there of course is the point where you realize what exactly Wal-mart is doing to middle America. But perhaps the condescending and creepily effectual sort of assertions that they make in their ads is what did it in for me.