Culture

Genius Marketers Urban Outfitters Troll Us All Into Free PR with Bloody Kent State Sweatshirt

Culture

Genius Marketers Urban Outfitters Troll Us All Into Free PR with Bloody Kent State Sweatshirt

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I really, really tried hard for about 120 seconds to just ignore this idiotic non-story about a company trolling for attention, and go about my business like a normal, well adjusted person, but — and this is why it’s such a genius move by Urban Outfiters — the hook is just too good. [UPDATE BELOW]

Well, not good in the traditional sense, but rather in the shit-encrusted diamond of relatability-trafficking that passes for discourse online now. I’m helpless in the face of its potential virality.  UO know people like me won’t be able to resist blogging about a bloody tragedy-evoking sweatshirt, like this Kent State item that was definitely for sale and not just a stunt, and fly off the handle calling it an offensive gaffe, then reaping those good outrage clicks. A rising offense-meme lifts all boats as they say. And so, here we all are, providing advertisements for the company free of charge.

The thing is, all the people offended by this know what’s going on here, Urban Outfitters knows we know, and most of you good, smart people know, but we’re all going to do it anyway. It just doesn’t matter. Anyone old enough to know, or care, what the Kent State shooting was isn’t going to shop at Urban Outfitters anyway. They have literally nothing to lose by this. As we talked about the other day around 9/11, there’s no such thing as bad publicity for brands anymore, there is only people talking about them or people ignoring them.

Urban Outfitters has done this sort of thing time and again (as I’ve written about before, like a predictably hoodwinked dumbass), with mental illness gags, poking fun at transsexuals, Native Americans, and eating disorders. And every time, like clockwork, hundreds of blog posts are launched, thousands of tweets shared, and the end result is…nothing much. You know the old saying, comedy is tragedy + time. This is a variation of that. Remember how infuriated we all were about the fund raiser that brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for Darren Wilson, the police officer that killed Mike Brown? That’s because it was still fresh in our minds. Kent State was an even worse abuse of power than that, and yet it happened a few decades ago, so it’s now fair game for merchandising jokes. Makes me wonder how long before this classic tweet below becomes a reality.  

The shirt is now “sold out” on UO’s website, with someone claiming to have bought it in order to put it up for auction on eBay. “I ordered it and am waiting myself, as soon as it arrives, I’ll ship it to you,” the seller writes. “Perfect for Halloween or whatever your deal is,” he says.

Whatever your deal is indeed. Who even knows what anyone’s deal is anymore.

UPDATE:

They’ve since “apologized.”

Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.

I’m not even offended by the shirt anymore, more so that they think we’re all stupid enough to buy this horse shit explanation.