In what appears to be either a thoughtless decision by an employee or a tasteless practical joke, retail giant Walmart is taking heat for a back-to-school sign hung over a glass display of rifles and shotguns.
The sign reads “OWN THE SCHOOL YEAR LIKE A HERO” and is apparently part of Walmart’s back-to-school marketing campaign. While the exact store has yet to be identified, the original photograph, posted by an Indiana resident named Leeanna May, sparked a firestorm from social media users across the country.
“…what are you suggesting?” asked Twitter user ZijZ.
— ZijZ (@ItsZijZ) August 9, 2017
May told the Boston Globe that she “immediately” drew the connection between firearms and school shootings when she saw the sign early Wednesday morning. She called the display “disgusting.”
‘‘We have already lost so many innocent lives to guns,’’ she told the Globe, adding that she was unable to find a manager to remove the sign.
“People don’t seem to honestly care,’’ she said.
While as of this report Walmart’s rifles have yet to escape their glass enclosure to take innocent lives, the company responded quickly to May’s post.
After determining the location of the store, Walmart posted that their store manager had removed the sign from that location.
Walmart spokesperson Charles Crowson also responded to the incident, saying in a statement, ‘‘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 also noted that, given the display and the configuration of the store, the photo appears to be legitimate. He declined to comment on whether Walmart officials acknowledged the connection critics were making between guns and mass shootings on school campuses, according to the Globe.
May claims to have seen the display in a Walmart in Evansville, Indiana, but Crowson told the media that her assertion is incorrect. He has yet to offer an explanation that would resolve the disparity between the company’s account and May’s.
That it was truly awful. 😞 We immediately removed the sign from the display as soon as we found out the store location. -Vik
— Walmart (@Walmart) August 9, 2017
This faux-pas follows closely on the heels of another marketing mishap in July. Twitter users discovered a wig cap being sold on Walmart’s website that listed the color as “n—-r brown.” After removing the item from their online store, the company issued a firm apology, saying they were “appalled” at the product description but also noting that it was being sold by a third-party.
The third-party seller claims someone stole their brand name to sell the product.