Headshot of Kathryn Lundstrom

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Colombia’s national agency of legal defense threatened to sue Walmart over the sweaters, saying that the product description linking Colombia with cocaine was offensive and damaging. Colombian officials told the daily newspaper El Tiempo that they were preparing documents requesting reparations for the damage done before the sweaters were removed from the site. If Walmart does not agree to its terms, the officials plan to file a lawsuit.

Walmart Canada has removed several pieces of holiday attire for sale by third-party vendors from its online store after customer complaints, according to Canadian news outlet Global News.

One of those festive wearables was a Christmas sweater sold by a company called Fun Wear featuring a crudely drawn Santa Claus sitting in front of what appeared to be lines of cocaine. Below the image were the words “Let It Snow.”

If one were inclined to think that was all a misunderstanding, the product description left even less room for interpretation: “Santa really likes to savor the moment when he gets his hands on some quality, grade A, Columbian snow,” it said. “He packs it in perfect lines on his coffee table, and then takes a big whiff to smell the high quality aroma of the snow.”

Twitter, of course, took note.

The kerfuffle is just the latest in a series of embarrassing incidents for companies like Walmart and Amazon that rely on third party vendors to expand the range of goods for sale in their online stores. And while Walmart has policies in place to prevent harmful or inappropriate products from reaching customers, they’ve proven to be difficult to enforce.

“These sweaters, sold by a third-party seller on Walmart.ca, do not represent Walmart’s values and have no place on our website,” said Walmart Canada in a statement. “We have removed these products from our marketplace. We apologize for any unintended offense this may have caused.”

Other sweaters reportedly removed from the site featured Santa and Mrs. Claus in compromising positions, Saint Nick in front of the fireplace roasting his “chestnuts,” and an upside-down snowman with conspicuously placed carrot and baubles.

Most of the sweaters, though not the cocaine Santa sweater which has been discontinued, are still available on the Minnesota-based vendor’s website.

Fun Wear did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.