Urban Outfitters? Social Media is on Line 1– Please PICK UP!
Posted By Brad Berens On May 27, 2011 @ 10:02 AM In Social Media | 1 Comment
The Twitterverse is on Urban Outfitters like piranha on a suckling pig and the clothing giant is doing nothing about it.
The news in brief from my wife, Kathi Inman Berens' blog:
Urban Outfitters  sat on their hands yesterday while their brand equity hemorrhaged cool. In three hours, UO lost 17,000 followers on Twitter; #urbanoutfitters and #thieves became a trending topic. The tweet that started it all from @amberkarnes :
Urban Outfitter’s meager response--this one tweet posted a few minutes after Karnes'--was insufficient to staunch the blood that kept spilling all day:
The @amberkarnes tweet became a “Top Tweet,” and was quickly dispatched to another nearly 1.3 MILLION followers. Boing Boing, The Consumerist and Huffington Post picked up the story. Even Miley Cyrus got in on the act and shared with her one-million-plus followers.
Amber Karnes’ full blog post  has all kinds of smart things to say about how her Tribe of 1000 followers turned this into an assault on an incredibly powerful brand.
The big story for brand marketers: every second of delayed response to an accusation creates space for a tsunami of ill will that can wreak havoc with even the most carefully manicured brands.
The indie-cool vibe that Urban Outfitters diligently built by hiring independent designers to craft the in-store brick-and-mortar displays and creating an entire lifestyle from its products--from clothes to furniture to soaps and drawer pulls--is now jeopardized. In less than 24 hours. A slew of “me too” posts on other blogs such as this one  about other wronged artists is lending credence to Karnes’ claim that Urban Outfitters is a serial indie art thief.
Brad's Take: As Kathi notes, what is most chilling from an industry perspective is the (as near as I can tell) total silence coming from Urban Outfitters themselves.
The Urban Outfitters website has nothing, yesterday's Tweet on the topic is totally inadequate. Their latest tweet (at the moment of writing) is "Great decorating questions! I will be doing this again soon for everyone I didn't get to. Thanks! Christine." Nothing on Facebook or their blog points to this controversy.
The cardinal rule of social media and marketing is that a brand must be a part of the conversation because the conversation will take place regardless. And that conversation is gathering steam: in addition to the Twitterverse and Huffington Post, a cursory look around this morning shows that CBS News is tracking the story.
Urban Outfitters, please wake up!
The U.S. is bearing down on a holiday weekend and you cannot remain silent on this issue while it festers for three long days. If nothing else, please remember how badly the Domino's brand and shareholder value suffered from the fake boogers in the pizza debacle in 2009.
URLs in this post:
 Urban Outfitters: http://urbanoutfitters.com/
 @amberkarnes: http://www.twitter.com/amberkarnes
 Image: http://blogs.imediaconnection.com/files/2011/05/AmberKtweet1.png
 Image: http://blogs.imediaconnection.com/files/2011/05/UOTweet.png
 full blog post: http://www.myaimistrue.com/2011/05/urban-outfitters-ripoff-trending-topic/
 this one: http://youthoughtwewouldntnotice.com/blog3/?p=9719
 whole post here: http://kibsblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/urban-outfitters-twitter-fail.html
 follow her on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kathiiberens
 Stevie @ Tru.che's original : http://imakeshinythings.tumblr.com/post/5855716317/not-cool-urban-outfitters-not-cool
 Jason Linkins from Huffington Post jumps on the story early: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/26/urban-outfitters-steal_n_867604.html
 Xeni Jardin's Boing Boing's coverage: http://www.boingboing.net/2011/05/26/did-urban-outfitters-1.html
 Consumerists' coverage: http://consumerist.com/2011/05/urban-outfitters-jewelry-identical-to-independent-designers-line.html
 How the story got picked up by CBS News this morning: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504943_162-20066764-10391715.html
 The Daily Mail's verstion of the story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1391578/Urban-Outfitters-centre-fury-claims-emerge-ripped-American-designers-ideas.html?ito=feeds-newsxml
 The New York Times' fashion blog on the story: http://ny.racked.com/archives/2011/05/27/copy_cats.php
 Miley Cyrus weighs in from the beach in Mexico, very much against Urban Outfitters: http://www.celebuzz.com/2011-05-27/miley-cyrus-poses-in-mexico-rants-against-urban-outfitters-photos/
 Urban Outfitters website complete with "Community" section on the right… and no comment: http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/index.jsp
 Urban Outfitters on Twitter with no recent comment: http://twitter.com/#!/UrbanOutfitters
 Urban Outfitters on Facebook with no comment: http://www.facebook.com/urbanoutfitters
 Urban Outfitters blog with no comment: http://blog.urbanoutfitters.com/
 CNBC overview of the 2009 Domino's Debacle: http://classic.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=1095561662&play=1
 iMedia Connection analysis of Domino's Debacle: http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/26379.asp
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