When Marketing Goes Wrong… Coca-Cola Apologizes For 9/11 Display at Walmart…
Coke Zero meets Ground Zero? Coca-Cola has apologized for a 9/11 display that resembled the World Trade Center before the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Photos online went viral showing cases of Coke cans stacked to look like the twin towers in a Walmart store in Florida. Black Coke Zero cases were in columns, surrounded by red Coca-Cola, gray/white Diet Coke and blue Sprite cases in the shape of the American flag.
Above the display was a sign with Coca-Cola and Walmart’s logos and the message: “9-11-01: We will never forget.” Under the banner is a “Rollback” sign advertising that 12-packs of the soda cans were on sale for $3.33 each.
Wal-Mart said store management at its Panama City Beach, Fla., location approved the design, which was criticized as “exploitive” and “disgusting” on social media this week.
After backlash, Wal-Mart said the display was removed from the store on Wednesday.
“We hold this moment in our country’s history in the highest regard, and there was nothing disrespectful intended by the display,” the retailer told the Associated Press.
Coca-Cola’s bottler for the region told the AP it was meant to honor local firefighters for an upcoming event
“We sincerely apologize that anyone was offended or misunderstood its intent, and we have replaced the display,” the bottler said.
This isn’t the first time a brand has been accused of using events like 9/11, where nearly 3,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks coordinated by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, to promote products. In 2013, AT&T came under fire for “tacky” ads showing a smartphone taking a photo of the twin lights paying tribute to the former WTC towers in New York City, and Marriott customers found the hotels’ offer of free coffee and muffins “in remembrance” to be offensive.