FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS More than 14,000 Walmart associates met in northwest Arkansas earlier this month for the company's annual shareholders' meeting. Given that the superstore chain is America's largest employer, the event was a little more complex than your average corporate gathering and, as has been the case in years past, it was a splashy production with eye-catching visuals. Walmart worked with Jack Morton Worldwide to turn the five-hour June 3 meeting at Bud Walton Arena on the campus of the University of Arkansas into a rollicking party, complete with interactive social media displays and celebrity guest appearances.
The most notable new addition to the meeting this year was a dramatic strip of LED lights that circled the arena, displaying Twitter messages from attendees. Additionally, employees watching off site via the event Web site could contribute their own tweets and watch them flash across the tickers lining the stage. The stage itself was a striking two-tiered platform, with a series of integrated LED screens and an elevator built into a column.
Before the presentation began, guests arrived to tunes played by Guido, a band made up of Walmart employees, and watched a “Tweet to Me” video that explained how they could participate. Then, following the singing of the national anthem, a video on the big screen counted down to the event's official opening in several different languages. After an opening number, the program moved on the announcement of the guest host, whose identity was kept a surprise until the name “Will Smith” appeared on screen and the actor-comedian bounded onstage. Smith took to the stage four different times throughout the event, keeping things light between presentations from Walmart executives. Additional entertainment included live performances from American Idol winner Scotty McCreery and singer Alicia Keys, with a concluding number from the Black Eyed Peas.