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Coca-Cola takes down Walmart display in shape of 9/11 Twin Towers

Technically Incorrect: It takes just one Twitter user to photograph a store display in Florida for someone to officially realize it may not be in the best possible taste.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Shawn/Twitter screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Some things might seem like good ideas but don't enter the world at the right time.

Some things might seem like bad ideas, but then they emerge into the world and surprisingly succeed.

Some things are just bad ideas, though.

You must decide which of these might refer to a display of cans of Coke and other Coke-owned products at a Walmart in Panama City, Florida.

The cans, in packs, were arranged to mimic the American flag, with the Twin Towers front and center.

Above this was a picture of the Manhattan skyline and the words: "We will never forget."

Clearly, this was to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Sunday.

However, just below this heartfelt thought were slightly less emotive words: "Rollback. $3.33."

And no one thought to roll this idea back before it was too late.

The display carried both the Coke logo and the Walmart logo, the former larger than the latter.

It so happened that a Twitter user called Shawn posted it to his feed on Tuesday.

His caption attempted to roll up the standards of, well, taste: "Florida c'mon man."

Shawn's tweet enjoyed 2,700 retweets and more than 4,300 likes. Some commenters offered biting contributions. For example, this from Soul Cycle Survivor: "instead of 3.33 they should be 3 for 9.11."

Once the sculpture was unveiled to a larger online audience, it seems that Coke had second thoughts.

A Coca-Cola spokeswoman told me that the display had been created by the company's local bottling partner.

She offered me this statement on behalf of Coca-Cola Bottling Company: "This display was meant to honor local firefighters and to support their organization's upcoming event. We sincerely apologize that anyone was offended or misunderstood its intent, and we have replaced the display."

For its part, Walmart told me through a spokesman: "We hold this moment in our country's history in the highest regard, and there was nothing disrespectful intended by the display being assembled. It was removed from our Florida store Wednesday."

Brands do so love to insert themselves into world events. This becomes especially prickly when the event is solemn and painful.

Could anyone forget SpaghettiOs' cheery Twitter commemoration of Pearl Harbor?

To associate a soft drink brand and a supermarket chain with anything other than a simple mark of respect seems foolhardy.

To take it further and use the Twin Towers and the events of 9/11 to peddle a special offer has all the taste of a can of Sprite that's been open a week.

Some might be relieved, however, that no one appears to have thought of a promotion linking Coke Zero with Ground Zero.