Wal-Mart 'heartsick' over DVD grouping
No. 1 retailer apologizes for bizarre racial combinations on Web site, spoofs poor sales in song.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Wal-Mart is ringing in the new year with a pair of snafus.

The retail giant apologized Thursday after its Web site directed buyers of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Planet of the Apes" DVDs to consider DVDs with African American themes.

Wal-Mart still on top
Wal-Mart took No. 1 on Fortune magazine's annual list of the Global 500.(Full story)

Wal-Mart said in a statement it was "heartsick" over the offensive combinations and that its retail Web site was linking "seemingly random combinations of titles."

The company said it would shut down its cross-selling system until the problem was resolved. It said the system was also referring buyers of movies such as "Home Alone" and "Power Puff Girls" to African American-themed DVDs.

Wal-Mart's apology came less than a week after the company played a spoof song about its disappointing holiday season on a recorded company phone message.

The company played a remake of the Christmas classic "Up on the Housetop" during its weekly recorded sales update Saturday, Reuters reported. By Thursday, the song was no longer on Wal-Mart's recording.

The song, which joked about the retailer's holiday sales performance and included a reference to the infamous limited laptop computers it sold and which caused customer brawls, risked angering investors, public relations experts told Reuters.

"People get kind of emotional about their money," Christopher Atkins, head of the global corporate practice at public relations firm Ogilvy, told Reuters.

He said there are times when humor is an effective tool for companies, but when things are not going well, it can appear as if managers are trivializing major problems.

-- from staff and wire reports


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