Here's a picture of a billboard that went up at 1111 Sam Walton Blvd. in Bentonville, AR. By afternoon, it came down. Here is an email I received from walmartwatch.com this afternoon.
Last week, with the help of tens of thousands of supporters across the country, Wal-Mart Watch extended a hand to Wal-Mart's management and the Walton family. In a seven-point statement of shared principles, we offered to partner with Wal-Mart to help make America's largest company a true model for responsible business in the 21st century.
To reinforce our offer, we contracted with Whistler Outdoor Advertising to post a billboard near Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. The billboard went up yesterday morning, just in time to greet visitors to Wal-Mart's Annual Shareholders Meeting being held today.
The billboard's message? -- a thoughtful, forward-looking quote from company founder Sam Walton:
"Maybe the most important way in which we at Wal-Mart believe in giving something back is through our commitment to using the power of this enormous enterprise as a force for change."
Yesterday afternoon, just hours after completing the billboard's installation at 1111 Sam Walton Boulevard, Whistler tore down our message. Company management has since told reporters that it was "duped" by Wal-Mart Watch. In reality, Whistler received our signed contract, payment, and artwork on May 25, 2006 and proceeded with the installation on schedule.
Whistler's management most certainly spent the day resisting withering pressure from Wal-Mart before finally giving in. While we hope that they will reconsider their action, we will accept our full refund and contribute that amount to the Bentonville Public Library.
So, while the first amendment doesn't seem to apply in the company town of Bentonville, our proposal to Wal-Mart still stands. Billboard or not, our hand is still extended. Is yours?
Please urge your friends to sign-on to our "Handshake with Sam" today.
Thanks for all you do,
Wal-Mart is probably thinking "We don't need no stinkin handshake".