In a statement that once again apologized for the “recent inappropriate promotion” of a series of African-American films on its web site, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. gave its explanation of the incident: A Martin Luther King Jr. holiday promotion inadvertently created “offensive” links between African-American movies and films such as “Planet of the Apes” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” in Walmart.com’s cross-selling system.
When setting up the promotion in January 2005, Wal-Mart linked certain movie titles to a group of filmed box sets so they would be readily visible to Internet customers, Wal-Mart said in a statement released late Friday. The four African-American movies-“What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” “Martin Luther King: I have a Dream,” and “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson”-were linked to boxed sets containing 263 other films. “Unfortunately, as a result, some of the inadvertent combinations were very offensive,” the retailer said.
Wal-Mart shut down the movie cross-selling system after being notified of the problem last Thursday night and is scrubbing the entire catalog to “dramatically reduce” the reoccurrence of any inappropriate or offensive combinations, Wal-Mart said. “Since becoming aware of the situation, we have worked around the clock to find out exactly what happened and try and ensure it doesn’t happen again,” the retailer said.