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BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Fed up with ever-mounting criticism from its opponents, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. broke a new television campaign nationally over the weekend to try to tell the public its side of the story directly. The ads address what Wal-Mart claims is its positive impact on communities, including core values, health care, customer savings, and charitable contributions.
The chain said it launched the ads initially in two markets -- Tucson, Ariz. and Omaha, Neb. -- this summer. It said it received an overwhelmingly positive response from customers, associates, and community leaders, according to Wal-Mart.
It remains to be seen, however, whether Wal-Mart's campaign will weaken its critics' efforts. While the retailer was going national with its ad campaign, community activists from Los Angeles and other big cities yesterday issued a joint call for Wal-Mart to improve wages and health care benefits before moving into urban areas.
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, an advocacy group, released a statement and a letter to Wal-Mart chief executive Scott that it said was signed by more than 100 religious, political, civil rights, and business leaders from 10 urban areas across the country.
The group is also asking elected officials in cities where Wal-Mart wants to expand to demand "good jobs that provide quality health insurance and living wages, and that allow employees to work free from discrimination and intimidation."
Responding to the group's actions, Wal-Mart said in a statement, "The public will see through these attacks, because they know Wal-Mart offers good jobs and opportunities, helps working families save money, and gives back more to our communities than virtually any other company in America."