|Photo By: Random Retail / Flickr|
"Own the school year like a hero."
This was Walmart's back-to-school campaign as the school year 2017-2018 is fast approaching.
However, things went awry as a photo of Walmart's gun case featuring the back-to-school slogan surfaced in social media, particularly on Twitter.
Ismail Kidd Noozrai, a Los Angeles resident, was the man behind the tweet as he captioned, "Oh Walmart." The photo has over 400 retweets.
A Walmart representative identified the store as Store No. 1,341, located in Evansville, Indiana, however, Charles Crowson, spokesman, Walmart, has clarified that the representative's claim was wrong, and added that the company is still trying to determine the store.
“We incorrectly identified the Evansville store. We’ve corrected that and are now trying to find the accurate store," the spokesperson said.
In a statement, Crowson said that the chain's operations team is trying to identify the store, and added that the display and the store's configuration confirm that the photo is real. However, it was not clear if the sign was placed by an employer or a shopper.
“What’s seen in this photograph would never be acceptable in our stores. We regret this situation and are looking into how it could have happened," Crowson said in the statement.
The calls for Walmart to abandon gun sales have frequently coincided with mass shootings, particularly in the light of 2012's Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting. Critics were fast to draw a connection with the back-to-school theme. Yet, Crowson refused to comment if Walmart officials have recognized the connection that critics were making between guns and mass shootings.
Leeanna May, the woman behind the viral photo on Twitter, challenges Crowson's statement that the Walmart representative was wrong with his findings.
She narrated that she was in Evansville on an early morning shopping trip with her husband when they discovered the said display, which she called "disgusting."
"We have already lost so many innocent lives to guns," May said as she built a quick connection between firearms and school shootings. She went to alert the store employees, but could not locate a manager.
"People don't seem to honestly care," she added.
Walmart's Twitter account has replied to numerous angry comments.
Prior to this incident, Walmart's marketing methods have generated ire from customers on two separate occasions.
Three years ago, the company has sent numerous apology tweets because of their infamous "Fat Girl Costumes" category. Jezebel went to report about the appearance of the infamous section, which is a collection of costumes usually located on Walmart's plus-size women's selection.
Two years later, it would draw flak as its Panama City Beach branch compiled stack boxes of Coca-Cola to emulate the World Trade Center in an effort to commemorate 9/11. The details state that Coke and Sprite boxes were used to create an American flag backdrop, while Coke Zero packages were stacked to replicate the towers. Completing the display was a banner that read, "We will never forget."
The display generated shock rather than amusement.
In defense, Walmart stated that it did not mean any disrespect, and added that it was Coke who formulated the display idea.
Nearly a month ago, Walmart has been flocked with criticisms as a wig cap was described by the company as "n***** brown."
This prompted Walmart to apologize for the racial slur:
“We are very sorry and appalled that this third party seller listed their item with this description on our online marketplace. It is a clear violation of our policy and has been removed and we are investigating the seller to determine how this could have happened.”
Jagazi, meanwhile claimed that someone had hijacked its name and that the wig cap and the ad were not from the company:
“The real JAGAZI is a 100% black company for black people. People have often used our brand name to try to sell their products. Please be aware. Very sorry for all the distress this has caused. We are feeling the pain here as well. Most shocking!”