Bill Simon, President & CEO of Walmart U.S., Shares His Story

Today, the TPN Bentonville office attended the Benton County Single Parent Scholarship Fund luncheon. Bill Simon, President & CEO of Walmart U.S., spoke at the event. Instead of speaking about how Walmart and the Walmart Foundation give back by supporting the Single Parent Scholarship Fund, it was a much more personal speech.

Mr. Simon was very real and down to earth. He discussed his upbringing in a single parent household with four siblings. His mother never graduated from college, and she did any odd job she could to help support the family. She instilled in her children the value and importance of an education, that being average or being exceptional is a choice, and the importance of giving back. Because of this, Mr. Simon, along with three of his siblings, all graduated from college. Two of them even went on to receive their Master’s degrees. While Bill’s mother never got the chance to earn her own college degree, she believed she earned six- thanks to her children’s accomplishments.

Besides gaining an appreciation for Mr. Simon and his personal story, we were reminded that while Walmart may have its share of detractors, they do give back to the communities in which they serve. Mr. Simon specifically mentioned the $4 prescription program, which he helped implement, as well as the emphasis and importance Walmart places on helping the community – illustrated through their everyday low prices, the practice of hiring veterans and associates without college degrees, and making it easier to shop with one-stop convenience.

PSA for Life Jackets Feels Hauntingly Real

With the coming of Spring and Summer, the weather warms up and folks will be looking to cool off with trips to the beach or to the lake. The teaser above for CLM BBDO’s A Trip out to Sea PSA for Guy Cotten, a French marine equipment and clothing brand, will make you think twice about turning down a life jacket for the sake of showing off your cute bikini on your first boat outing of the season. The interactive site will ensure your life jacket is snug and secured before you ever step foot off land. The Guy Cotten connection is minimally-done, which is nice and feels appropriate given the levity of the subject matter, but the connection is evident none-the-less.

Through the compelling video and interactive site, you, the viewer, will see from a first-person simulation what it is like to drown and it gets real, real fast. On the interactive site, users must constantly scroll their mouse in order to keep above water to reinforce the repetitive nature of treading water. There’s only one way this exercise ends and it’s not being swooped up to safety by a luck dragon. It’s a hauntingly vivid portrayal of one’s last thoughts before succumbing to the deep.

Now, I think it would be interesting to take this already emotional PSA to another level and it could be done through a number of methods. One way I think its impact could be even more immediate would be to display it at retailers selling boats and outdoor equipment. If this site was connected with a brand sold commercially in the U.S., I could imagine a large, interactive display at a place like Cabela’s or REI that would enable shoppers to experience this right next to the life jackets in the store. The point would be made immediately and hopefully, trigger sales and usage of these life saving devices. Another way would be to have lake patrollers who check boats for life jackets cue this up on waterproof tablets during their stops, so instead of just feeling like a fun-day-at-the-lake downer, they could educate people about the realities of drowning to further reinforce the need.

Credits: Guy Cotten and CLM BBDO

Giving Back on the Go

Last week, TPN participated in its Annual Day of Service by volunteering at food banks across the nation.  The Chicago team worked together to unpack, rebag and repack 2,000 pounds of Corn Flakes at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  It provided a break from the office and gave us a chance to do something different for the day.

It also reminded me how tough it is to make time to volunteer consistently throughout the year, outside of our TPN-dedicated days of service.

So I took it upon myself to look into some online and mobile solutions for those of us who want to give back, but may not have the time:

Snoball

Snoball “turns any action into a donation,” by using the power of social media to raise money for nonprofits.  By connecting Snoball to your Facebook, Foursquare or fantasy sports apps, it “empowers individuals to seamlessly integrate giving with living.”

I personally use this program, and each time I check into a restaurant on Foursquare, it donates a dollar to my selected nonprofit.  I also have a monthly limit on how much money I’ll give (I’m a bit of a Foursquare addict and can’t afford a dollar for every check-in).

FreeRice

Owned by the United Nations World Food Programme, Freerice.com has two goals: 1. Providing education to everyone for free, and 2. Helping to end hunger by providing free rice to hungry people for free.

Simply visit the website and answer educational trivia questions.  For each question you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated to the hungry.  It’s literally that simple.  Monetary support comes from sponsors who advertise on the website.

Charity Miles

Charity Miles, like FreeRice, uses corporate partners to support its cause of allowing users to “earn money and raise awareness for charities by walking, running or biking.”

The app not only tracks activity as any other running app, but users have the power to choose which charity they will run for.  Walkers and runners earn $0.25 per mile and bikers earn $0.10 per mile.

Today is TPN’s Day of Service

It’s an annual day of giving back to those less fortunate in the communities we live. We chose to give our time to Food Banks– a logical extension of our understanding and respect for retail and shopping.
A lot of the food that is donated comes from great retailers like Walmart & Safeway, and is repacked by volunteers (like us) and sent to shelters that are set up like stores (with shopping carts, aisles, merchandising) so the people who need the food can come in and shop for things they need and want vs being given a pre-packed handout. A dignified way to lend assistance that leaves everyone whole.
$1 donation to the North Texas Food Bank equals 3 meals, so little goes so far.
And in our offices in NYC, Chicago, Richmond, Hershey, LA and San Francisco, TPN’ers participated on behalf of other local charities. A great day all around.