Here's something you don't see every day at Walmart -- filming of a hip-hop video where the dancers take time out from nearly non-stop booty shaking to select feminine-hygiene products, try on underwear over their shorts and give their digits to admiring men.
The "Walmart-Mr. Ghetto 'New Orleans Bounce' Summer 2011" video went viral with nearly 500,000 views on YouTube between going up on May 17 and being taken down by YouTube the afternoon of May 19, citing a violation of its policy on "nudity or sexual content." (UPDATE: The video has since again popped up on YouTube.) The video helped make Walmart a Twitter trending topic early May 19 -- and that was before it made PerezHilton, where a lower-resolution version can still be viewed. (Warning: Content is sexually suggestive.)
The production by New Orleans rapper Mr. Ghetto looks to have been filmed entirely in the parking lot and inside a supercenter in the city's Uptown section. Extensive in-store footage suggested the film crew from Bonose Productions either had permission from the store management or took advantage of inattentive staff. Scenes were shot at the store's entrance and checkout areas as well as in apparel, laundry, oral-care and feminine-care departments. In the parking lot, the crew stacked and arranged shopping carts for scenes.
A Wal-Mart Stores spokesman declined to comment. Bonose didn't return a call for comment to a number listed on the video. [Editor's note: YouTube later had a change of heart and put the video back up, now with more than 540,000 views.]
A person familiar with the matter said Walmart didn't authorize the video but the production crew may have been able to "use a few seconds of video in different parts of the store" to piece the video together.
It all gives "Action Alley," Walmart's term for its aisles, a whole new meaning.
In the video, the aisles are wide enough to easily accommodate a camera operator and the dancers, which is relatively rare these days. Since Walmart piled merchandising displays back into its Action Alleys in a merchandising shift last summer, most shoppers would be hard pressed to find much room to shake booty, or at least the clear sight lines necessary to record the event.
YouTube viewers gave the video more thumbs down than up. Several YouTube comments described it as demeaning and offensive to blacks and women. References to the Walmart brand ranged from "I hate Walmart now" to "If this [were] what Wal-Mart was actually like I'd go there more often."
But besides content deemed offensive by most YouTube voters, the store comes across looking pretty good -- clean and well stocked with a wide assortment. Right on message for Walmart.
And Mr. Ghetto portrays Walmart as a great place to meet women. "Man, forget going to the club to meet some new," he says at the outset. "When I want me some new, I will get me a basket and walk around Walmart."
Summer's Eve and Massengil feminine wash products also get prominent play, as does the Louisiana Purchase state electronic benefits transfer card, all almost certainly without pay or authorization.
And, just a wild guess here, but Wal-Mart probably won't feature Mr. Ghetto among musical acts at its annual shareholder meeting next month.