'I Can't Breathe': Walmart Edits Ad in Wake of Protests

Phrase Uttered by Eric Garner Before Death Became Protest Ralling Cry

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Man says 'I can't breathe' in ad for Walmart mobile plan.
Man says 'I can't breathe' in ad for Walmart mobile plan.

In the wake of nationwide protests over the lack of an indictment for the death of Eric Garner, Walmart is editing a commercial showing a black man saying "I can't breathe" as he's hugged by his daughter.

The same phrase was adopted by protesters nationwide after a grand jury on Dec. 3 declined to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner, who uttered the phrase in a video aired in news reports following his July arrest. That video has gotten round-the-clock national news play since the grand jury decision.

In response to tweets yesterday, the @WalmartNewsroom account announced: "We're re-editing as we speak based on feedback we've received."

The Walmart Mobile Family Plan ad first aired this summer during back-to-school season, said Walmart spokeswoman Deisha Barnett in an e-mail.

"We can see how the ad might be viewed differently today than when it first aired earlier this year," she said. She didn't yet know when the revised ad would air.

Interpublic's Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., created the ad, "which began running earlier this summer before any of this started," said a spokeswoman for the agency. Publicis Groupe's Mediavest handles media for Walmart.

The TV ad tracking service iSpot.tv only picked up airings of the ad starting Dec. 1, two days before the Staten Island grand jury decision was announced. Walmart spent an estimated $1 million on the spot this week, according to iSpot.tv, which indicated it aired up to nearly 4 a.m. this morning on such networks as A&E and BET.

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