Walmart may not have a stellar track record with how it treats its employees with special needs. But the company’s new ad may very well inspire you to think differently about what it means to live with a physical or intellectual disability.
In its latest spot, produced by Saatchi and Saatchi, Walmart profiles a man named Patrick who has lived his entire life with intellectual and physical disabilities. Despite the torrent of struggles he’s faced, Patrick -- who works for Little Tikes, a Walmart supplier -- never gave up on pursuing sports, academics and work in order to live a meaningful life.
"My whole life people have been telling me I have a learning disability. I guess they’re right," Patrick says in the ad. "Because I never learned how to give up."
The ad -- which comes on the heels of the company’s pledge to buy $250 billion in products made in America over the next decade -- aims to promote Walmart’s focus on American manufacturing.
But at the heart of the short video is a message of undeterred perseverance.
In the video, Patrick talks about being sent to a "different school" and playing on a "different team." He, at one point, lost feeling in his legs, but endured rigorous physical therapy to be able to walk again.
While the ad certainly highlights some of the company’s advocacy efforts, it doesn’t invalidate the onslaught of criticism Walmart has faced -- particularly in its treatment of people with disabilities.
Last November, the company fought the Supreme Court to avoid paying disability benefits, according to Mother Jones. It also came under fire on a local level in October when a store in Durango, Colo., fired a greeter with disabilities for clocking in late.
But over the course of the minute and 44 seconds, it’s Patrick’s story -- one of resolved determination to live an independent life -- that takes center stage.
"When I wanted to work, I got a job," Patrick says. "It’s a struggle every day, but I still get up because work makes me feel I’m reaching my goals."
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story stated that Patrick works for Walmart. He works for Little Tikes, a Walmart supplier.