News & Politics

PR Pro Collects Very Big Bucks From Wal-Mart

Insiders have been asking what it took for Wal-Mart to lure Leslie Dach away from Edelman, a powerful public-relations operation that he cochaired with former Ronald Reagan aide Michael Deaver.

Dach, 52, has been close-mouthed about his deal with the nation’s largest retailer. But documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission provide some of the answers.

Wal-Mart has given Dach 67,522 shares of stock, which are worth more than $3 million. Dach gets options to buy another 168,805 shares at a price of $44.43. For every dollar that Wal-Mart stock goes up, Dach will make an additional $168,805; in mid-September the stock was at $47.

Wal-Mart has been beset by a host of public-relations problems—an unflattering documentary, attacks by labor unions, politically incorrect comments by company spokesman Andrew Young, and lawsuits alleging that the Arkansas-based company discriminates against women and minorities.

Dach helped Edelman create political-style TV ads for Wal-Mart, claiming that the stores save the average household $2,300 a year. Wal-Mart was so impressed with Dach’s enterprise that they asked him to come on full-time.

Wal-Mart is trading at a near five-year-low stock price, and company executives believe Dach, a National Audubon Society board member and former Bill Clinton media adviser, has the keys to unlock the stock value of the nation’s best-known store.

Dach says his family won’t be moving to Bentonville, but he has stocked an apartment there with artisan bread, lox, and fresh fruit from a local Wal-Mart.