Wal-Mart CEO Is Front and Center

Two articles this week highlight strides Wal-Mart is making in increasing wages and improving store service. A Wall Street Journal article was titled, "CEO Doug McMillon's Ad Was Designed to Burnish Retailer's Image: The retailer put its leader at the center of a push to shed perceptions that it offers little more than low prices and low-paying jobs," and a New York Times article was titled, "How Did Walmart Get Cleaner Stores and Higher Sales? It Paid Its People More." Both articles focus on the retail giant's efforts to improve its image.

The WSJ article describes McMillon's appearance in a commercial as an "unusual move," and the NYT article references a video he produced in 2015 promising to increase employee wages and training, below. McMillon also appears in a YouTube video, "Riding in Cars with Executives" with a Wal-Mart associate. Although having an executive so tightly connected to a brand can be risky, McMillon is younger than the average Fortune 500 CEO and is likable. In the car video, he talks about popular culture and seems, well, just like the rest of us.

Discussion Starters:

  • I say that having a CEO tightly associated with a brand is risky. Why do you think that is? What examples of other companies have presented a CEO similarly and probably regretted it?
  • Assess McMillon's video, above. Who are his primary and secondary audiences? What are his communication objectives? How convincing are the messages? How effective is his delivery style?