Mike Rowe has a face only a network can love. The TV pitchman got his name for dipping his toe (among other parts of his entire body) in the muck and the mire of humanity for Discovery’s Dirty Jobs. The show, which shined a spotlight on the common man, became Rowe’s calling card.
Since then, he has shilled for Tylenol, Lee’s Premium Jeans and Ford Motor Company. He’s practically the voice of reason for the little man. To wit, he was hired by another brand known for its reach into middle ‘Merica — Walmart.
For that, America has turned on Rowe to the tune of name calling, boycotting, social media trolling and even death threats.
Wait, what? Yes. As in “Let’s light the torches, get our pitchforks and go get us some Mike Rowe” threats.
Why, after the jump…
Mike Rowe stays busy but nothing could have prepared him for an innocent simple man commercial like this. First, we report, you decide. Here’s the Walmart slice-of-Americana spot entitled “I am a factory.”
Hand over heart, right? Go Team USA, yes? Oh hell-to-the-no! An onslaught of hate mail and the aforementioned death threats came pouring in to Mike Rowe’s inbox for a voice over. This is from his Facebook page following the media tour.
“Three days of press, five hours of sleep, four bottles of wine, a speech, a job offer, 5,000 form letters, and a couple of good-natured death threats,” Rowe wrote in the post. “All because of a commercial that I narrated about American manufacturing paid for by Walmart. Press tours are fun!”
If you weren’t fuming too badly to pay attention, Walmart is promising to spend $250 billion over the next 10 years to create new U.S. manufacturing jobs. Again, “God Bless America” strumming in your head? Seeing bald eagles fly on the horizon? Uh, no.
Walmart has never been a fan favorite for a myriad of reasons. Ironically, the same people who complain about the big box oligopoly probably shops there dawned with Pussy Riot ski masks as well because the economy. To wit, Mike Rowe is now the expatriate of America living in Sellout Town.
According to Business Insider, this Gawker article called him a “shill for the oppressors” and suggested that he lost his Ford Motor Company endorsement deal over the ordeal. He says his office has also been “carpet-bombed” with 5,048 form letters from the labor group Jobs With Justice “imploring me to sit down with ‘real Walmart employees’ and listen to stories about how unfairly they have been treated.”
I understand the Public Enemy status Walmart has embroidered on its corporate denim jacket (made in Taiwan, no less), but is this really necessary to Rowe? What do you think? We’d love to do a follow-up.