Since the introduction of instant online communication and around-the-clock news cycles, the boundaries between business and political have long since been blurted out. This leads not only to the frequent presence of the ”business person” among those placing America’s future in the balance but also the emergence of issues/campaigning that reflect a strong ”business voice,” from Wall Street and ”Super PACs” to racehorses.
Therein lies a certain inverse dynamic, however, as academic Clayton Christensen has written. The ”supply side” influences of companies, he explains, are too diffuse in nature to dictate policy for the country as a whole and trickle down or expand a third party’s influence.
The more relevant and in the middle ground are consumer organizations, which are ”predictably” the voice of the ”middle class.”
Some signs of the times have arrived, such as a new hybrid organization of the like-minded, but a clearer signal is the upcoming ”controversial” partnership between Walmart and the Humane Society. However, there is more to come.
Abandoning ideological restraints, the group hopes to show how the juggernaut megastore can join hands with activists and not butt heads with their aligned competitors.
”If Walmart’s lobbying efforts were aimed at influencing public opinion, this would be dismissed as a pathetic continuation of the verbal warfare that we have seen played out in Washington for decades,” Wayne Pacelle, the head of the Humane Society of the United States, told reporters at an industry event last week. ”But why settle for platitudes and political elocution? Why not talk policy and how these ideas can change the way we do business?”
The company aims to fight animal suffering and provide an alternative for animals as a way to turn an otherwise political battle into an economic opportunity, according to Joe Castaldo, a company director.
According to Reuters, Walmart officials are excited by the project and focused on working together with grass-roots groups across the country.
“We look forward to working with other groups like HSUS as well as hearing from consumers about what pet ownership is all about,” Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo said in an email.
We hope Walmart will still defend itself from attack or defeat before making this change a reality, but for a guy like Pacelle who is so openly eager to understand America’s social structure and reinforce Walmart’s influence in the marketplace, it will be interesting to watch these events unfold.