Wal-Mart Aims For MySpace Crowd

    July 18, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The Hub will be the retailing giant’s online attempt to win over the online teen crowd and bolster its flagging fortunes in the hotly competitive apparel market.

Wal-Mart Aims For MySpace Crowd
Wal-Mart Tries To Lure MySpace Crowd

Can a rigorously policed, corporate-branded networking site bring in teens who have come to loathe the seamier side of social networking? Is the only way a site can grow one that generally follows Aleister Crowley’s “Do what thou wilt” as an operating principle? Profile your thoughts at WebProWorld.

Hanging out at Wal-Mart really does take place. For every Big Apple and L.A., there are hundreds of small towns and cities where the only thing to do on a Saturday night is cruise around the parking lot of Wal-Mart.

That may or may not transfer to The Hub, a heavily controlled online networking site run by Wal-Mart. An AdAge report noted the arrival of The Hub, and has pretty much dismissed the site’s chances for catching on with the younger crowd, courtesy of comments from some dubious teens.

Wal-Mart wants to call participants in the site “Hubsters.” It’s a play on hipsters, only not as hip. Apparently no one at Wal-Mart’s Bentonville, AR, headquarters, or its ad firm, GSD&M of Austin, TX, bothered to do a web search for “hubster,” as the term is most commonly used by middle-aged women referring to their husbands.

It’s even more apparent when searching for “walmart hubster.” Really. Click here to see.

Wal-Mart has paired with Sony, another name that isn’t exactly etched positively in the minds of a young audience. The duo have provided some enticements to encourage participation in The Hub, though.

Similar to the Yahoo ad contest our Jason Lee Miller discussed recently, Wal-Mart has invited its young audience to create a page or submit a video to The Hub. Unlike Yahoo’s oh-so-generous backpats, Wal-Mart is offering real prizes, like a trip to Los Angeles to meet with a Creative Professional in the business.

Quite frankly, our lives would be complete if the winner chose to meet with Yahoo’s media kingpin, Lloyd Braun.

However, participating in The Hub involves obeying a lengthy list of requirements set down by Wal-Mart. Teens aged 13-17 need their participation supervised by a parent or legal guardian. Wal-Mart will also review content submitted before it is posted to the site, a practice that elicited this wry comment from AdAge writer Mya Frazier:

So a subversive, ironic ad by a savvy teen on how her dad’s hardware shop closed down after the retail Goliath rolled into town would likely be “otherwise objectionable” to Wal-Mart.

Aww, come on, Chevy had so much fun with its Chevy Apprentice campaign, too.

Maybe since the rigid conformity and control being enforced by Wal-Mart will be seen as so uncool that teens will participate in it ironically, and one of them will walk off with the big prize for a video he or she creates. It’ll be something to talk about on a MySpace blog, anyway.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.