Walmart on Thursday morning removed a TV ad after complaints and tweets that the commercial insensitively references the death of Eric Garner, the black man who died after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold.
The commercial, for a Walmart-branded cell phone plan powered by T-Mobile, shows a black man giving his daughter a cellphone. To thank him, the daughter affectionately wraps her arm around his neck and starts taking selfies while the dad mutters, “I can’t breathe.” The ad does not seem to be connected to the case but “I can’t breathe” were Garner’s last words after NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold while arresting him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes in July.
@Calamity8Jane We can see how the ad could be viewed differently today than when it first aired. We’re re-editing now it due to feedback.
— Walmart Newsroom (@WalmartNewsroom) December 4, 2014
Deisha Barnett, a Walmart spokeswoman, mentioned that the ad began airing over the summer, but she was unsure whether that was before or after Garner’s death. The ad was in circulation until Thursday morning, when the company removed it in response to tweets complaining about the ad.