BrandSnark: Good Week/Bad Week for the Big Brands

Great Week: Walmart The retail giant – the nation’s largest private employer – announced it will pay for its workers to go back to school providing they pursue degrees in business or supply chain management. More than 1.4 million full-time, part-time and salaried workers will be able to earn associate and bachelor’s degrees at three partner schools: University of Florida in Gainesville, Brandman University in Irvine, California, and Nebraska-based Bellevue University. Walmart will pay for tuition, books and fees while employees will be expected to contribute $1 per day.

Good Week: Dick’s Sporting Goods – The national chain’s principled-but-risky decision to stop selling assault-style rifles and raise the minimum age for a gun purchase to 21 – made in February of this year in the immediate aftermath of the Parkland shootings – appears to have been rewarded with this week’s earnings report showing stronger than expected quarterly sales and profit. Dick’s stock rose as much as 27% on the good news, which included a 24% increase in online sales.

Smart Week: Sanofi U.S. – The Ambien maker acted swiftly and decisively in the wake of Roseanne Barr’s blaming her racist tweet on being under the influence of the sleep drug. In a tweet of its own that’s as authentically purpose-driven as it is bitingly clever, the company wrote “racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.” #standsmart

Another Bad Week: Sears The bleeding continues as the once-mighty chain announced it will soon close 63 more locations: 48 Sears and 15 Kmart stores across 29 states. Sears stock – already at near-all-time lows – dropped an additional 13% on the news.