Wal-Mart Embarrassed By Movie Listings

    January 9, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The world’s biggest retailer issued apologies after discovering several prominent African-American themed films listed as “similar items” for titles like “Planet of the Apes.”

A “completely unintentional” employee error at Walmart.com saw four movies grouped with a number of DVD box sets a year ago, the Washington Post reported.

As a result, users who clicked on a listing for a DVD boxed set on Walmart.com found four films listed as “similar items” for any DVD title. The similar items films were “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” “Martin Luther King: I Have A Dream/Assassination of MLK” and “Unforgiveable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.”

The Post noted that while these titles showed up as similar items for DVD sets like “Monty Python’s Flying Circus Megaset,” they also appeared in listings for “Planet of the Apes” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

News spread quickly throughout the blogosphere, the article said:

The blog Firedoglake, run by Jane Hamsher in Oregon, posted news of the combination yesterday afternoon under the heading “So Wrong.”

The incident illustrated how quickly a firestorm can build on the Internet. Two minutes after the post appeared on Hamsher’s blog, it was up on the Crooks and Liars site. Within hours, more than 100 comments were posted to that site, questioning such things as Wal-Mart’s agenda and the technicalities of mapping.

Mapping titles to one another gives Walmart.com and other sites the opportunity to cross-sell extra items, in this case movies, to customers. The issue with Walmart’s site has since been corrected, with Walmart offering apologies for the situation.

A follow-up article by the Post cited an employee error at Walmart.com as the cause. “The person did this with the best of intentions of putting together the right topics for the right time of year here,” said Carter Cast, president of Walmart.com, in the report.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.