Walmart is playing defense after it hung a back-to-school banner above a rack of shotguns, sparking viral outrage Wednesday.
Calling the display that urged customers to “Own the school year like a hero” a “regrettable situation,” Walmart apologized for the mishap in a series of tweets as Twitter demanded an explanation for the unfortunately placed banner.
“What are you suggesting?” one Twitter user asked.
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— ZijZ (@ItsZijZ) August 9, 2017
The photo hit Twitter mid-morning and quickly went viral, earning the mega-retailer a lot of heat on social media.
The photo, snapped at a yet-unknown Walmart location, shows a glass case displaying shotguns with “Own the school year like a hero” banner hanging above.
"What's seen in this photograph would never be acceptable in our stores," the company said in a statement. "We regret this situation and are looking into how it could have happened."
A spokesman declined to comment on the connection critics were making between guns and mass shootings on school campuses, The Washington Post reported.
The spokesman told the Post initial reports that the photo was taken at a store in Evansville, Indiana were incorrect, but Leeanna May, the woman who claims to have taken the photo refuted the company’s claim.
May said she and her husband were shopping in the Evansville store when she says she saw the “disgusting” display.
Twitter appears to back up May’s story, too.
“We appreciate you letting us know about this display. Which store location was this? –Vik,” the company tweeted at May.
We appreciate you letting us know about this display. Which store location was this? -Vik— Walmart (@Walmart) August 9, 2017
After May replied that the store was in Evansville, though her account is now private, Walmart said at 9:33 a.m., “I’m happy to tell you our store manager Christina has removed the sign from the display. Thanks again for alerting us to this.”
I'm happy to tell you our store manager Christina has removed the sign from the display. Thanks again for alerting us to this. ? -Vik— Walmart (@Walmart) August 9, 2017
This isn’t Walmart’s first advertising scandal. The retail giant caused a stir on Twitter last September when it used Coke and Sprite boxes to create an American flag backdrop with Coke Zero boxes in front in the shape of the Twin Towers captioned by a banner that read “We will never forget.”