The Wal-Mart Smiley Face: Author Charles Hood’s Exploration of Who Is Really Smiling About Its Business Practices
Wal-Mart’s trademark smiley face has become one of the most recognizable symbols in the world, sending a message of happiness and harmony to customers. What the smiley face hides is an ugly truth, a corporate culture of underhanded deal making, an “own or destroy” philosophy, and a desire to eliminate all competition, at any cost.
Author Charles Hood, in his insider account, Wal-Mart’s EGOnomics—Always—The Greed Behind the Smiley Face, illustrates why the only people smiling about Walmart’s business practices are its executives.
Hood’s company, ADDvantage Media Group, Inc. (AMG), was destroyed by its dealings with Walmart, which left Hood’s former company — which had a multi-million dollar market value at the outset of its contract with Walmart — completely devalued and those involved in it without jobs. Although AMG certainly was not smiling about what had happened, the Walmart executives responsible were.
By contractual agreement with Wal-Mart, AMG conducted test marketing at several Wal-Mart locations with the AMG Shopper’s Calculator, a unique, multi-purpose device that attached to the handles of shopping carts. Consumers both appreciated and enjoyed using the Shopper’s Calculator because its benefits included being able to track purchases, coupons, and calories while they shopped.
Furthermore, the Shopper’s Calculators translated to huge profits for businesses that implemented them. Not only did the calculators provide unique advertising space but also allowed customers to tally exact spending rather than mentally rounding up to the next dollar. This ability often led customers to spend more money when they realized they were well within their spending budgets.
Although AMG held up its end of the contract “to the letter,” Walmart completely disregarded any of its contractual obligations to AMG. Without exerting any effort or input on their part, Wal-Mart made money because of AMG—both from the benefits of the Shopper’s Calculator as well as AMG’s honored contractual obligation to pay Wal-Mart $2,000 per year per store.
Hood recounts, “To me, it was quite obvious why they would be so pleased. They were enjoying all of the benefits of a new service for their customers and for themselves, and were also being well-paid for doing nothing -– not even giving us any part of the assistance that they were contractually bound to provide.”
While Hood’s story may be shocking, it is, unfortunately, not an isolated or an uncommon story, as evidenced by the litigious nature of dealing with Walmart, reportedly resulting in approximately one lawsuit filed every thirty minutes.
Wal-Mart’s EGOnomics—Always is a story that anyone considering doing business with Walmart and anyone who shops there should read. This true story inspires readers to reconsider both practices.
Book reviews to date have been highly complimentary, awarding the book a rare FIVE STARS (out of five) and further stating that: “Wal-Mart’s EGOnomics— Always is ‘an incredible book.’”