A controversial set of shirts and sweatshirts depicting Santa Claus doing cocaine has sparked controversy over whether major retailers should sell them. And two of the biggest retailers in the world seem to be at odds.
Last week, Walmart announced that it would stop selling shirts that depict Santa doing cocaine. The shirts, which show cartoon versions of Santa with cocaine on the table in front of him, sport the caption "Let it snow." Other similar versions also show elves and reindeer preparing to do cocaine.
"We all know how snow works. It's white, powdery and the best snow comes straight from South America," the product descriptions read. "That's bad news for jolly old St. Nick, who lives far away in the North Pole. That's why Santa really likes to savor the moment when he gets his hands on some quality grade A Colombian snow."
Walmart Canada commented on the company's decision to remove the shirts and told Global News that the items in question were "sold by a third-party seller" and "do not represent Walmart's values and have no place on our website."
Las week, Vice discovered that Amazon took a decidedly different tack and hasn't removed the shirts from its site. In fact, as of this writing, the shirts and sweatshirts are still for sale on Amazon's site.
Amazon did not immediately respond to an Inc. request for comment on the matter.
Prices vary on the shirts and sweatshirts for sale on Amazon's page. It's unclear how well they're selling.
Either way, the company's apparent decision to keep the shirts on its digital shelves is a decidedly different reaction than Walmart's ban. And deciding which company made the right call difficult, if not impossible.
Amazon's listings clearly show that the shirts are meant to be gag gifts. Whether the joke is offensive depends on the recipient, I suppose. And the decision might ultimately come down to Amazon trying to decide whether the shirts are good or bad for its overall marketplace.
Walmart, meanwhile, made a clear decision that it didn't want the shirts to be associated with its brand. And its justification, saying a cocaine-snorting Santa wasn't in line with its values, was enough to justify removal.
More than anything, the difference in policies reveals how challenging it can be for big retailers to decide what should be sold in their stores.
For now, at least, consumers clearly have an option if they want to buy the shirt. Walmart might not be their best bet, but Amazon is where they can get it. Whether it'll remain that way is anyone's guess.