I have previously written a number of Blog Posts about Corporate Greed: however, a situation that has arisen lately is truly beyond belief. If you were to do an Internet search for a combination of “Kent State University” and “Urban Outfitters”, there will be many, very similar responses. So what? Apparel retailers sell clothes with the names of various colleges, resorts or non-existent things all the time?
Just take a look, however, at the picture in this column, which is linked from the Miami Herald: http://www.momsmiami.com/2014/09/16/4350952/why-are-we-still-shopping-at-urban.html. Now, you might think that this is just made to look like a lived-in shirt, or an already pre-worn one. Like stone-washed jeans perhaps! But, that red spot, toward the top of the faux Kent State sweatshirt, however, is intended to look like the wound from a gunshot. That red, of course, represents the blood of someone who was wounded, or perhaps one of the four innocent students who died at Kent State University. Now, who in their right mind would want to wear such a macabre shirt? Or buy one?
Let me quote the first several definitions of “macabre”, from the on-line Merriam-Webster Dictionary: having death as a subject: comprising or including a personalized representation of death; dwelling on the gruesome; and tending to produce horror in a beholder. That shirt surely meets every one of those criteria: that shirt is truly a representation of death. Maybe UO thinks that it hit a Home Run with this gruesome marketing idea.
On May 4, 1970, just a few months after leaving the Army, I was attending Ohio State University–the day those students were shot at Kent State. The National Guard quickly descended on our campus; because, KSU is also part of the Ohio university system. Based on the inept leadership of the Ohio National Guard leaders, which I had seen in Columbus, I read about the deadly actions at KSU. The leadership of the officers and NCOs was totally nonexistent, the Troops were untrained and undisciplined. The summary legal reports of what happened at Kent, Ohio seemed quite similar to what I had witnessed in Columbus. I can only feel extremely sad for the Families of the students who were killed needlessly.
By the time that I read this article in the Miami Herald last night, the on-line link had already been replaced from Wednesday’s paper; but, I found it, tiitled “Why are we still shopping at Urban Outfitters?”, on “Mama Sass’s” Blog. Like many well-followed Blogs, it had advertisements that change every minute or so. Well, when I first found the link, the ad to the upper, right was for…Urban Outfitters. I kid you not!
Taking an opportunity to make money from this horrendous tragedy, just to sell merchandise, is totally unacceptable. But, let’s review this in the context of other unbelievable marketing efforts on the part of UO. Consider that the company has also advertised and sold: hand gun shaped Christmas ornaments; T-shirts with “fashion symbols” (?) resembling the stars that the Nazis forced the Jews to wear; and merchandise celebrating the cult of Che Guevara. Additionally, Urban outfitters has also marketed a “Ghettopoly” board game (crack houses and pimp hoes included) and a Navajo Nation liquor flask.
As always happens, the company seemed to be trying to laugh-off the bloodied shirt representations as it offered an “apology”, Oh, and it also stated that: “We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively.” Surprise!, Surprise! How the Hell else should anyone perceive these items? Also, when you consider the hand gun ornaments, the Star of David T-shirts, the whiskey flask and equally offensive board game on a cumulative basis, I can only wonder: Why would anyone: want to shop at Urban Outfitters; own stock in the company; or perhaps even go to any Mall that has a UO store?