Urban Outfitters does not shy away from controversy, and it does not seem to be purely bad luck. Their latest offensive product was a Kent State University sweatshirt that seemed to have an obvious bloodstained pattern. What is the problem with this? Well, The National Guard open fired on Kent State University students back in May of 1970. Four students died as they were protesting the Vietnam War and nine others were injured.
Urban Outfitters immediately pulled the item and apologized for any negative perception. They claimed it had nothing to do with the school shooting and that they did not intend to allude towards that event. Really, Urban? You’re trying to say that no one ever noticed this problem? It sounds like a free marketing strategy if you ask me, and this isn’t the first time.
Earlier this year Urban Outfitters came out with a shirt with the word, “Depression”, printed all over it. Of course there was an outrage and Urban Outfitters graciously apologized. They claimed they were not trying to downplay something so serious that affects so many people, and so on. Have they never heard of depression? Yes they have. But the free publicity is awesome isn’t it?
Last but not least is their 2010 release of a shirt that read, “Eat Less.” They have now offended those who have been affected by school shootings, depression, why not throw in eating disorders? This is extremely offensive and counterproductive for anyone who is battling an eating disorder. But Urban Outfitters already knew that. They are well aware of what they are doing, especially since they have been repeat offenders. Where will they cross the line?
Urban Outfitters is very obviously using the rage of others as free advertising. They are taking the risk of bad publicity and turning it into cash in their pockets. I suppose it could work, but at the cost of being perceived as awful people? Kent State University said it best with their response to the bloodstained sweatshirt, “We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit. This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.” This statement can also accurately affect the feelings of the other people Urban Outfitters has offended. School shootings are not a fashion trend. Depression is not a fashion trend. Eating disorders are not a fashion trend. Urban Outfitters, try a new marketing strategy. I suggest one that involves spending some money and being creative rather than demoralizing innocent people for a profit.