Wal-Mart’s role in the culture wars is often ascribed to be predictably conservative. After all, this is the company that couldn’t bring itself to sell Barbie’s pregnant (and married!) doll-friend Midge. In recent years the beyotch from Bentonville tossed out Jon Stewart’s book America (because of its naked Supreme Court Justices) as well as lad mags, Maxim and Stuff.
Wal-Mart’s purgative tendency emerged in the mid 80s when it heaved magazines as innocuous as Tiger Beat — lest a Simon LeBon centerfold enrage the base of Jimmy “I have sinned against you” Swaggart in his short lived jihad against rock and roll.
On the other side of the coin, Wal-Mart has hosted both Clintons to hawk their respective mea culpas. They even welcomed that wholesome heartland honey Paris Hilton to promote her masterpiece of ghostwriting, Confessions of an Heiress. More significantly, the country’s largest employer deemed gays and lesbians worthy of protection from discrimination, though they stopped short of springing for domestic partner benefits.
And yet… they still won’t sell the morning after pill.
And yet… they sold the hell out of Fahrenheit 911 on the eve of last year’s election.
You should be.
Furthering the complexity is news from Ad Age that Wal-Mart has been selling KY jelly, gobs of it. In fact, the jam of life, courtesy of Johnson and Johnson, is now detumescing on the retailer’s top 10 bestseller list of new Health & Beauty items for 2005.
I begrudge no one their consensual pleasure, but what’s fascinating here is the marketing. You see, Johnson & Johnson — and presumably Wal-Mart— isn’t selling handjob cream for any old wank.
Check it out:
From Ad Age: “K-Y’s growth stems from new ad strategies aimed at the middle-American consumer base. Clinical problem-solution ads didn't resonate with this group but a message about 'enhancing intimacy between committed partners' did."
Quick review: KY for solo missions and back alley trysts is still suspect. KY for “intimacy between committed partners” is as wholesome as a Cracker Barrel breakfast.
Naturally this begs broader questions. When, oh when, will Wal-Mart debut the intimacy-enhancing Strap-On? Monogamy-defending butt plugs?
Bentonville: What’s a committed red state hetero gotta do for a nipple clamp? My marriage depends on it!!!