Walmart’s ‘Raise in Pay’

July 16th, 2015

A Walmart commercial that boasts about the ways in which the company is helping its workers calls attention to the number 15, the amount employees publicly demanded Walmart pay staffers per hour.

“Because a raise in pay,” the voiceover says as check-out lane 15 lights up, “raises us all.”

But Walmart — which has pledged to invest $1 billion for higher wages, training and education for its workers — did not raise wages to $15 an hour. The largest private employer in the country only recently raised the minimum wage of its U.S. workers to $9 an hour in April and $10 an hour beginning in February 2016.

The National Advertising Division (NAD), an industry self-regulatory body, investigated that $15 messaging and considered whether the ad also implied that:

  • Walmart raised the wages of its employees to a living wage, allowing them to earn enough to support themselves and/or their family.
  • Walmart’s increased wages allows its employees to “build a future.”

But when NAD brought its concerns to Walmart, the company responded by declining to participate in the advertising self-regulatory process. In fact, the retailer had harsh words for NAD, according to a release from the regulatory body. Walmart said NAD lacked both the jurisdiction and resources to pursue the inquiry and it would not “contribute meaningfully” to the larger policy debate related to messaging in the advertising.

NAD disagreed, saying the commercial fits well within its definition of national advertising:

The entire focus of the commercial is Walmart’s decision to invest in its employees by substantially raising wages and increasing education and training. It promotes Walmart as a company that cares deeply about its workers welfare and, consequently, its stores as places where consumers who care about the welfare of working people should shop.

The FTC will have the final word on whether the advertising was misleading or deceptive, as that’s where NAD referred Walmart after the company’s refusal to play nice. It is the second referral the FTC has received in recent weeks regarding Walmart. Click here to read about TINA.org’s recent complaint about misleading made in USA representations by the world’s largest retailer.

UPDATE 9/24/15: The FTC declined to investigate the Walmart commercial touting higher wages. In a letter to NAD, the FTC said it considered “resource allocation and enforcement priorities,” as well as “the type and severity of any consumer injury” stemming from the ad.

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