The eclectic millennial hipster retailer known for edgy household and clothing items for ultra petite urban chic has pissed off poison control centers, substance abuse groups and attorneys general across the country with its Rx coffee mugs and shot glasses. The coffee mug, a pill bottle with handle, has an Rx label for coffee prescribed by Dr. Harold Feelgood for patient Joe Espresso who is instructed to take one mug by mouth and repeat daily.
On June 14, 2013, Urban Outfitters caved to pressure from the aforementioned groups and pulled the Rx coffee mug and shot glasses off the shelves, yet it remains prominent in its online store (whether it’s for sale, not sure).
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has succeeded in taking down a serious threat to the fight against drug abuse – coffee mugs that look like prescription drug bottles.
Madigan, along with attorneys general from more than 20 other states, sent a joint letter on May 22 to Urban Outfitters CEO and Chairman Richard A. Hayne regarding the “controversial” product line his company was selling. The concerned party wrote:
On behalf of the undersigned Attorneys General, we request that Urban Outfitters immediately cease sales of your “Prescription Line” of glasses, coasters, mugs, drink holders and related products that mimic prescription pill bottles and prescription pads.
Because, as the attorneys general said:
There is a national health crisis related to the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs. As Attorneys General, we have prosecuted and engaged in outreach to stop this epidemic. We are actively engaged in a campaign of environmental change to educate the public that abuse of prescription drugs is not safe simply because the medication originated from a doctor. … By putting these highly recognizable labels on your products you are undermining our efforts.
I’m sure the F-bomb canteen and “drunk as F-bomb” head gear are best sellers at Urban Outfitters. In fact, I’m wondering what percentage of sales Urban Outfitters enjoys from its smarmy snark non-apropos products? I bet the “Coffee Makes Me Poop” mug in brown is popular for ex-husbands’ fathers’ days. And, the pile of goo-like poo in the bottom of a coffee mug should be something bought for the old boyfriend. Seriously, would a guy risk purchasing this stuff for a woman? Talk about the need for gender marketing.
Or, better yet…
Not sure if Sensitivity Marketing is even a discipline; if you put the word “marketing” next to any descriptor, it pretty much works. I do know there is sensitivity training so perhaps that’s what this is about.
Now that Urban Outfitters has had its 10 minutes of negative publicity fame (and really ticked off people from whom you don’t want attention like half the country’s attorneys general), it’s time to act like you’re sorry, stop thumbing your nose at substance abuse advocates and put products back on the shelf that really mean something e.g. Save The Whales, Eradicate Illiteracy, and the like.
Is Urban Outfitters looking for a viral product to infiltrate cultism? Am betting so, but guess what? #FAIL.