The National Retail Federation is fighting back. In response to TV spots focused on struggling Walmart workers aired by a retail union during the Oct. 13 Democratic debate, the NRF will broadcast two commercials during this Saturday's debate. It's the first time the NRF has broadcast ads on national TV, according to a spokeswoman.
One of the two 30-second spots depicts a business owner and his employees, who speak about all they have learned and gained from working in the retail industry. Another spot features a series of happy retail workers, set alongside statistics such as "85% [of retail workers] have earned a raise."
The ads, produced by Leading Authorities, are part of a broader "This is Retail" campaign promoting the work lives of retail employees around the country. According to NRF CEO Matthew Shay, the organization will continue such efforts into 2016 "to make sure that the true voice of retail is heard and that elected officials support polices that contribute to a vibrant, healthy and robust retail industry that benefits the U.S. economy." The NRF has 18,000 members including state associations.
In October, the 1.3-million-member United Food and Commercial Workers Union spent $200,000 on its own 30-second spots, which are part of the "Making Change at Walmart" campaign for higher wages for the big box retailer's employees. The group did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment on the NRF ads.
The NRF declined to say how much it is spending on Saturday's push, which will air on CBS. Commercials in the Democratic debates cost less than those in the Republican events. CNBC reportedly asked for $250,000 for one 30-second spot in its Oct. 28 debate boasting Republican frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
However, while October's Tuesday Democratic debate attracted a record audience of 15.3 million, a Saturday event could find fewer viewers tuning in, simply because it's the weekend.