June 03, 2005

Lemme Hear Ya, Scholar!

walmartalways.jpgSince folks who work at Wal-Mart don't make a decent enough wage to actually send their kids to college, Wal-Mart has responded the way everyone's responding to complex socio-political issues these days: they're sponsoring a college scholarship reality TV show.

How altruistic you might think, but lets not forget that back in November, Miss Elizabeth Paige Laurie (a Wal-Mart heiress) had her Always Low Priced name besmirched for cheating her way through college. She was paying other people to do her schoolwork. Let's also not forget that her parents rescinded the naming rights for the sports arena they bought at the University of Missouri last year. It was going to be named after Miss Cheater von Cheatenstein, as well.

I can just hear the marketing mavens in Bentonville, giggling about how this is going to rejuvenate the Wal-Mart brand, which I suppose is possible, if the American public can't see through a cheap stunt. Because the $300,000 they're throwing at these kids, considering they made $300 billion last year, smacks of smarmy, greedy manipulation -- and I work in sales and marketing, honey.

For the first time, Wal-Mart Stores is becoming a major sponsor of a reality television show, by signing a branded-entertainment agreement with ABC for "The Scholar," a summer series that begins a six-week run on Monday night. Wal-Mart will be woven into the plots of episodes of the show, which is centered on a competition among 10 high school seniors from across the country for a grand prize of a full college scholarship, valued at $250,000, covering tuition and expenses.
Oh, incidentally, Wal-Mart isn't donating the full scholarship - they're divvying up the money to all of the contestants - with some of the cash being diverted to Wal-Mart gift cards so they can decorate their dorm rooms. How thoughtful of them to donate money to the kids that the kids can only spend at Wal-Mart. How very thoughtful.

Always Low Expectations. Always.

New York Times: Wal-Mart's New Realm: Reality TV

CNN's coverage here.

Posted June 3, 2005 10:06 AM
Comments

Read Nickel and Dimed-- it made me hate them more than I ever thought possible. Bastards.

-- posted by: Justin on June 3, 2005 12:21 PM

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