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Here's Why Wal-Mart Screwed Up By Using Rush to Promote American Workers

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As my father used to tell me, Rock, use your head for more than a hatrack.

That's how I feel after fielding the response to Tuesday's Dear Wal-Mart: Rush is Canadian article.

While I understand the objections to my take -- they're quite intuitive after all -- they tend not to hold up upon anything even resembling thoughtful inspection.

Here's one I received via email with my reply:

And then there was this type of reaction in the comments section of the article:

Who cares where the band is from- it's the song they were after. If you watched the Rush documentary, you hear Geddy himself say that Rush might have never done anything beyond their first album had this song not been aired in Cleveland where the song resonated with blue collar workers who fell in love with the song ... Silly and pointless article.

I found this exchange particularly interesting and equal parts curious and specious:

TheStreet's Jason Notte gets credit for the line of the week (and, not so by the way, maybe article of the week as well with the excellent Where Does U.S. Beer Go After 3,7000 Breweries?). But, comedic greatness aside, Notte speaks to a larger point.

First, here's the commercial in question, where Wal-Mart (WMT) uses Rush's classic "Working Man" to promote the American worker and its apparent commitment to them:

As somebody who grew up on the border in Niagara Falls, NY and considers himself as close to being Canadian as an American can, the North America as one notion is absolutely bogus. It's bogus as far as Americans go and even more so as far as Canadians are concerned. Canadians don't like the fact that the lines between Canada and, yes, America (or the United States, if you prefer) continue to blur. For goodness sake, political campaigns in the country often use nationalistic lingo to the effect of Do you really want Canada to become more like America? If not, don't vote for "them!"

With that in mind, Wal-Mart ought to know better.

The marketing folks at Wal-Mart must understand that the company operates in a sensitive environment in Canada.

Consider the recent work of TheStreet's Brian Sozzi on Target (TGT) Canada's problems over at Real Money:

Basically, (Canadians see) Target ... as an arrogant American brand trying to impose their standards, instead of listening to their needs.

That's exactly the sense I got when I visited home -- and spent time over the holidays in Ontario. The Canadians I spoke to and eavesdropped on don't care much for Target or Wal-Mart's presence in their country. Their very distinct country that they're proud of and ready to protect, culturally speaking.

Stock quotes in this article: WMT, TGT 

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