South African clothing retailer Big Blue has been forced to issue a public apology after one of their t-shirt designs was widely criticised on social media.
Just when you think one of 2019’s most-followed news stories had been put to bed (Fiona Viotti ranked in the top 10 South African Google searches last year), the uproar surrounding the t-shirts has seen calls to boycott Big Blue stores.
The company’s founder and MD, James Robertson, says his team has realised they dropped the ball, and have now destroyed all of their remaining stock.
Reporting via TimesLIVE:
“We apologise unreservedly. We’ve been making tens of thousands of T-shirts that make people happy, and this time around we just got that one wrong in a rush for Christmas,” [Robertson] said.
“The T-shirts have been pulled out and destroyed. And obviously if someone has already bought the T-shirt we will happily refund them.”
…He said the T-shirt had only been in “select” stores. “But as I say, they have been pulled out and destroyed by my colleagues when they first heard of it.
“We apologise, we messed up. It was of course not intended to be offensive. It was a weak attempt at humour and a bad judgment.”
Clearly, they’ve missed the mark wildly on this one.
The t-shirts caught heat after a Facebook post by child protection activist Luke Lamprecht was widely shared, where he finished by asking “how do the Parktown [Boys High] and Bishops victims feel about now being made into pets?”
For those unsure of the Parktown reference, you may recall the horrific abuse pupils suffered at the hands of their water polo coach, Collan Rex.
Given how much coverage the story received last year, I’m sure you’re up to speed on the Bishops scandal involving Viotti.
Big Blue also issued an apology on Facebook, which was met with mixed reactions:
You can tell by the hearts and angry faces – I’m sorry, this is how social media works now.
Here’s what you’re looking at:
OK, but we could also try and avoid profiting from jokes that make light of the sexual abuse of South African schoolchildren.
Perhaps the lesson here is that if you’re a clothing company, make sure a few people check your designs before you go to print.
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