I’m a lot of things… but not crazy
Walmart has a particularly interesting ad out, from a psychological perspective. Their latest message is that not shopping at Walmart is crazy, as shopping at Walmart (should) cost less than shopping elsewhere.
Now let me preface my argument below by saying that I know many people on both sides of the Walmart Fence. Some of my friends vehemently hate Wal-mart for engaging in practices that, lets be honest, most companies engage in (Wal-Mart does have a higher volume than most though). Other friends of mine believe that Wal-mart is fine, despite the effects that Wal-marts may have on local economies, especially mom and pop stores. Personally, I am of the opinion that Wal-mart is capitalisms at work, and while I think they could do a better job at providing for their employees, I highly doubt that they are a more insidious employer or presence in the market than anyone else. At least they don’t make you pay $5 for a cup of coffee, like some places 😉
Anyway, here’s why I love this commercial. It doesn’t tell you that you’re stupid if you don’t shop at Wal-mart, it tells you that you’re crazy. If you walk down the street and someone calls you stupid, you can easily laugh it off. You know you’re not stupid, so who gives a rip if they think you are. However, Crazy isn’t quite so easy. Crazy seems to invoke a thought that perhaps the other person may be correct – and if they are, you’d of course think they weren’t. Look at it this way – if you see someone walking backward, mumbling to themselves, and wearing a barney t-shirt, you may be inclined to call that person Crazy. However, they probably wouldn’t agree.
What Wal-mart is saying in this commercial, ever so subtly is the following
If you decide that shopping elsewhere because you disagree with our business practices will make any difference in how we run our business, you’re wrong. And if you want to force yourself to pay more to make a meaningless statement, rather than pay less at Wal-mart, YOU’RE CRAZY
I like this sort of marketing – it uses an innocent foot-in-the-door approach (e.g. the whole gas price thing) to put the idea into people’s heads that they’re nuts for not shopping at Wal-mart. However you feel about The Wal, you have to admit – it’s a rather nice subtle message, isn’t it?