“Free Porn Aisle 2”

Chris Heap

This WalMart story has been doing the rounds on the internet and Twitter and was originally sourced from the Associated Press but thanks go to Manolo Almagro for picking up and alerting us.

It seemed worthwhile posting the story verbatim to demonstrate just why it is so important to set up bulletproof checks, balances and process on managing and moderating staff access to any customer facing digital signage network.

Written by Marc Perton from the consumerist.com

Two men have been arrested for playing porn over a half-dozen TV screens in a Fort Smith, AR, Walmart store. The two apparently popped a DVD into a player that controlled several screens, and let it rip. According to police, “the pornographic DVD was visible to the general public as they were shopping” for several minutes.

Eventually, one shopper apparently realized the video wasn’t a promo for a new line of linens or gardening implements and contacted management. Meanwhile, the store surveillance video, which was released to a local TV station, is apparently a big hit, and several customers who found the DVD footage inspirational have already been offered jobs in the adult-entertainment industry (no, not really, though we suspect that some of them may never be the same again).

If the original report is accurate, the culprits are the staff who knew a way around the system and sabotaged it.

Most observers will know that in a typical digital signage 2.0 deployment, local control can be gifted to staff in some way or another to enable them to promote store specific product, service or news items, with this ‘instant broadcast’ capability being one of several reasons why digital media is an attractive medium for marketers and retailers.

However almost all of us must surely agree that if access to a network is granted at local level then it needs to be to people in positions of responsilbility, who operate within a ‘closed system’ that in itself allows only limited access and control and that escalation and approval processes to regional and head offices are clear on exceptional items.

Clearly not ensuring such processes and barriers exists means it’s all too easy for a disgruntled staff member to undermine which is completely counter productive to the manner in which most modern digital signage networks the world over are designed, managed and controlled (we hope).

There’s been no statement from Walmart’s Press Department on this matter, yet.

As Duane Dibbly so eloquently put it on the comments section below the original article, “This is Wal-Mart you’re talking about. 10% of shoppers were offended, the other 90% stopped to watch.”

Could this have been part of clandestine ‘measured media’ test to evaluate shoppers propensity to purchase and did anyone measure its effectiveness on soft porn DVD sales I wonder?

8 Responses to ““Free Porn Aisle 2””

  1. manolo Says:

    actually – Phil Lenger @ Show+Tell clued me to the story. I just tweeted it. :)

  2. JohnInSLC Says:

    More proof that shoppers notice in-store TV!

  3. Dave Haynes Says:

    It was awfully tempting to write something about this, but what stopped me is that I am not at all convinced this had anything to do with Walmart’s digital signage efforts.

    While the blog that picked this up showed Walmart TV screens at the checkout, the local paper reported more accurately:

    “Sexton and Andrews — an employee of the store — allegedly removed a
    promotional DVD from a DVD player built into a display in the furniture aisle at Walmart, 8301 Rogers Ave., at about 10:45 p.m. Sept. 3, according to police reports.

    The DVD player was connected to six televisions in the store.”

    So this was a merchandising display and probably just one of those sad little barker channel DVD things, not the real digital signage network as run by Walmart. I agree entirely with the notion of locking down systems and have processes in place, but I am not convinced this really represents a big boo-boo for Walmart’s digital signage people. A DVD feeding some TVs is a low rent solution with the low rent consequences of Debbie Does Bentonville showing in the furniture aisle.

  4. Chris Heap Says:

    Good point Dave. The article simply raises the point that staff can (evidently) be less than ‘on brand’ and that retail managers should be aware that to protect the integrity of their brand they should provide control mechanisms. If they are referring to a non DS solution as you mention, then this is a pertinent reason for integrating that media into a full DS solution where the control mechanism would have prevented this from happening in the first place. I think the integrity of the Smart Network remains intact…

  5. Guillermo del Toro Says:

    Content is king!

  6. Billy B Says:

    Probably the best content (and most noticed) that ran in any Walmart for the last 2 plus years!

  7. Neil Farr Says:

    I agree with Chris – it strongly demonstrates the need to remove local access from unauthorised store staff (and members of the public!) of devices which can be misused. Personally I always try and ‘break other systems to see how badly they are secured, as if I can do it just to see if I can, then anyone can and do worse (e.g. PCWrold in the UK who used to secure their laptops on display with the password ‘PCWORLD’….).

    Although it seems not to be in this case, it is strange that so many systems are regularly seen with desktops, Blue Screens, No content, Error messgaes, etc in this industry, whilst kiosks (which are essentially the same thing but with a touchscreen/keyboard attached) usually have at least some security on them (like Kioskmonitor or Signagemonitor).

    And – when do we get ASDA (walmart’s UK company) doing this – it may make me change stores ? :)

  8. Luis Says:

    I bet we would all get tons of more viewer impacts if we showed some “skin” on our screens / networks from time to time… a leg here…a tit there…


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