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Walmart Gingerly Weighs in on Racial Controversy With 'Many Chairs'

By Published on .

Walmart wants to give everyone a seat at the table in a new ad that arrives amid racial controversy stemming from violence in Charlottesville and President Donald Trump's reaction to it.

Walmart's updated take on Coke's iconic "Hilltop" ad from 1971 is the 60-second "Many Chairs. One Table" ad from Mono, Minneapolis. The timing is apparently coincidental: The ad was already in the works as a follow-up to Walmart's holiday "Come Together" ad from last year, according to people familiar with the matter. Given the production values, it clearly wasn't slapped together in the week between the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville and when it first aired Sunday. Then again, August is a little early to start Thanksgiving ads, even for a retailer.

The ad shows an ethnically and geographically diverse crowd wheeling and carrying chairs to a giant dinner table in a field, all to tune of The Youngbloods' "Get Together." You know: "Come on people now, smile on your brother. Everybody get together, try to love one another right now."

"We're a place where 140 million people gather every week, and our stores are part of the fabric of communities around America," Walmart says in a statement. "Inspired by what we are hearing from many of our customers and associates right now, this ad celebrates the importance of coming together."

But Walmart, which over-indexes in Trump country with relatively few of its stores in major coastal cities, hasn't gone out of its way to publicize the ad in social or conventional media. As of early Thursday, it's gotten a modest 10,000 views on YouTube and 30,000 on Facebook.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillion didn't join other CEOs quitting Trump's advisory councils last week before they were disbanded, but took the president to task in a note to employees. "As we watched the events and the response from President Trump over the weekend, we too felt that he missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists," McMillon said.

Mono, backed by MDC Partners, is a former Target agency that landed on Walmart's roster last year and has kept its place despite consolidation of most work under Publicis Groupe's Department W. Prior work from Mono also had a decidedly multicultural cast.

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