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Wal-Mart Changes 'I Can't Breathe' Ad After Complaints

Wal-Mart said they will re-edit an ad currently airing after viewers complained it reminded them too closely of Eric Garner's fatal arrest.
Wal-Mart ad
Viewers called for Wal-Mart to remove its ad, saying it reminded them too closely of the Eric Gardner case that sparked nationwide protests.YouTube

Wal-Mart said Thursday it will be re-editing a commercial after viewers complained it reminded them too closely of details in the case of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by an NYPD officer.

In the ad, a tall black father sits on a couch next to his young daughter. He pulls out his phone with unlimited Internet from Wal-Mart Family Mobile. Then he gives her a phone and she is overjoyed. Squealing with delight, she wraps her arm around the back of his neck and tugs him down. "I can't breathe," he says jokingly as he struggles. Cut to product information and pricing.

"Based on feedback from customers we're going to be re-editing the ad," said Deisha Barnett, Wal-Mart's senior director of corporate communications.

"It struck a nerve in myself," said Shana Sanders, a marketing professional from Atlanta, Georgia, who saw it while watching the morning news and said she told several friends about it right away. "It immediately made me think of the Eric Garner case where he was choked by the arms of a New York police officer."

In July, the video of Garner's fatal arrest went viral. In that video, an NYPD officer put a chokehold on Garner and he went down to the ground while yelling, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe."

"It is very, very, sensitive right now and I think Wal-Mart needs to pull that ad," she said, adding that she was contacting civil rights leaders to bring pressure on the retail chain.

Nationwide protests erupted Wednesday night after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

"Albeit, it's his daughter and he's joking about choking... the timing of the video is not good," said Darrell London, an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission worker in Georgia. "I immediately thought of Eric Garner."

Wal-Mart said it would be changing the ad, which first began running early this summer, after hearing from viewers.

"Consider it done," the Wal-Mart newsroom tweeted to viewers complaining on Twitter. "We’re recutting it now."

London, who said he was "shocked" to his "core" after watching the commercial during a showing of "The Voice" last night, said he was glad to hear of the move and offered a suggestion on how it could be tweaked.

“Have her give him a high five or kiss on the cheek...or even a fist bump."