The economic effects of a PR crisis can vary.
Some public uproars are the topic du jour
for the blogosphere, but fade away quickly. For instance, will Dove suffer financial repercussions over an ad that many bloggers dubbed racist
? Probably not.
Other PR crises, on the other hand, can do harm to a company's bottom line.
Urban Outfitters, for example, might feel its current public relations disaster in its pocketbook, with people calling for a boycott of the store on the eve of a holiday weekend—one in which many people are inclined to shop.
The incident began on Wednesday when Chicago jewelry designer Stevie Koerner
noticed the retailer had seemingly copied her line, which sells on Etsy
. “Not cool, Urban Outfitters,” she said on her Tumblr
. “Not cool.” Koerner continued:
“My heart sank a little bit. The World/United States of Love line that I created is one of the reasons that I was able to quit my full-time job. [Urban Outfitters] even stole the item name as well as some of my copy.
“I’m very disappointed in Urban Outfitters. I know they have stolen designs from plenty of other artists. I understand that they are a business, but it’s not cool to completely rip off an independent designer’s work.
“I’ll no longer be shopping at any of their stores [they also own Free People & Anthropologie], and I’m going to do my best from here on out to support independent designers & artists.”
Here is the Urban Outfitters version of the design:
And Koerner's designs:
Blogs and media outlets have picked up the story. The Huffington Post
declared, “Urban Outfitters Continues Their Grand Tradition Of Ripping Off Designers
.” Last year, former Village Voice
blogger Foster Kamer uncovered a similar incident
, in which the company had ripped off a Brooklyn designer.
Twitter is buzzing about the incident, with many calling for a boycott
. For her part, Koerner recognized the support she’s received in the past couple of days by offering them a discount on her jewelry
Urban Outfitters has yet to comment on the matter. It’s Twitter feed
has gone silent. Commenters on its Facebook wall
are insisting they’ll never again shop at Urban Outfitters or its affiliated stores.
The Village Voice
said that Rich Tong, fashion director at Tumblr, “has been in touch with Urban Outfitters' PR team, who have apparently reached out to Koerner and begun the process of pulling the items from UO.com.”
An apology and explanation are also in order.