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Grand-prize winners

From layoffs gone bad to customers gone mad, these companies outshone the competition.

Because if there's anything America loves, it's a politician...
Wal-Mart
Because if there's anything America loves, it's a politician...
In an attempt to put a smiley face on its tarnished image, Wal-Mart hires heavy-hitting public relations firm Edelman, which sets about using tactics derived from political races to reverse public perceptions of the giant retailer.

Dubbing its campaign "Candidate Wal-Mart," the firm trumpets all manner of new Wal-Mart initiatives: improved employee health-care benefits, higher starting pay levels, new stores in downtrodden neighborhoods, reasonably priced organic foods, and a flat $4 fee for hundreds of generic prescription drugs.

As a result, candidate Wal-Mart quickly becomes, well, the most popular politician since Spiro Agnew. By year's end Wal-Mart suffers its first quarterly profit drop in a decade, sees same-store sales decline in November's run-up to the crucial holiday shopping season, and suffers a series of public relations gaffes so stunning that it lands six spots in this year's edition of the 101 Dumbest Moments.

Wal-Mart

Comcast

Starbucks

RadioShack

Home Depot

Hargreaves

AOL

Amazon.com

Bank of America

Bristol-Myers
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