Critics launch 'terror' attack ads against Wal-Mart
New ad says retailer's opposition to full cargo screening could aid bin Laden; Wal-Mart calls ad 'inaccurate.'
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A new TV ad from Wal-Mart critic WakeUpWalMart.com features images of a nuclear explosion and Osama bin Laden to suggest that the retailer is putting America's security at risk by opposing scanning of cargo containers at the nation's ports.
The 30-second ad, due to begin airing this week in 16 cities, claims that Wal-Mart's opposition to 100 percent screening "leaves America's ports and cities vulnerable to a terrorist nuclear attack."
The spots, entitled "America's risk," are to air in New York, Houston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit, San Jose, Calif., and other markets, the union-backed group said.
The campaign is meant to pressure Wal-Mart (Charts), the world's largest retailer and the nation's biggest importer, to "help stop the next 9/11" and reverse its lobbying effort against 100 percent scanning of cargo containers, the group said.
Wal-Mart spokesman Robert Traynhman said the ad's claims were "factually incorrect."
Asked if the company opposes 100 percent screening, Traynhman said, "We are proud of our efforts to ensure a secure supply chain and Wal-Mart continues to play a leading role to enhance cargo security."
He said the ad was in "poor taste" and called it an "irresponsible and desperate attempt to avoid the facts and play upon people's fears and disparage our company and its 1.8 million associates."
Traynhman did not specify how the company would respond, but said Wal-Mart "was exploring all of its options."
The ad's voiceover starts saying, "One of the greatest threats we face since 9/11" is terrorists like Osama bin Laden acquiring nuclear weapons and shipping them into the United States for a terrorist attack. Its opening images are of bin Laden and a nuclear explosion to suggest the catastrophic consequences if port security fails.
The group said the ad can be viewed on its Web site and on YouTube.com.
Wal-Mart remains a lightning rod for groups like WakeUpWalMart.com and Wal-Mart Watch that have attacked the company over its pay, hiring and healthcare policies.
For its part, Wal-Mart has initiated some reforms over the past year. The company has cut by half the waiting time for its part-time workers to get health insurance. On Tuesday, the company announced anew bonus plan for its workers. The retailer has also taken steps to become more environmentally friendly.
Wal-Mart stock was little changed in morning New York Stock Exchange trading.