In case you managed to forget, the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington D.C. and the World Trade Center is this Sunday. And while it’s natural for people to have a wide span of complicated reactions to an event that killed thousands, traumatized countless more, and reshaped the course of American politics in the space of a single awful September morning, there’s probably one thing that most of us can agree on: Commemorating the event by building a giant World Trade Center out of Coke Zero cases probably isn’t the best way to go.
Hence the reaction to a Panama City Beach, Florida, Walmart that did exactly that with a recent advertising display, complete with a Coca-Cola-branded banner featuring a pre-9/11 New York skyline. The display was pulled as soon as the internet caught wind of it, but not before it made its way into Twitter infamy, including the @_FloridaMan Twitter account, the online repository for all of the most embarrassing news stories from America’s wang.
A spokesperson for Walmart was quick to apologize and/or shift blame for the faux pas, telling the Orlando Weekly that “Coke typically approaches Walmart with display ideas, and they either approve or deny it. In this case, Walmart approved the 9/11 display.” Apparently, nobody involved considered the old marketing adage that says, “If your advertising looks even remotely like a fake ad that might run on The Onion, maybe you should just toss it out.”