One Little T-shirt Equals a Mountain of a Mess

By Aldeanna Donald, Chapter Member

I was driving home one day this summer when I heard the most ridiculous comments being made on the radio.  I knew from that moment on that this was a PR issue to talk about.

Apparently some parents were up in arms about a t-shirt that was being sold at The Children’s Place.  If you have children, you’ve probably shopped there before or have at least heard of it.  With my sister working there, I have an in, and a reason to talk about this little problem.  The infamous t-shirt—for little girls—was purple and read, “My Best Subjects”, and the options were shopping, music, dancing, and math.  The uproar was caused when three out of four subjects were checked off and math wasn’t among the subjects.

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Parents’ screamed the shirt was sexist because it implied that little girls were not good at math.  These parents raised such a raucous that The Children’s Place pulled the t-shirt from the shelves and issued an apology on their Facebook Page.  I asked my sister if the shirt was still available at her store.  She had not heard about the problems the shirt was causing, but she remembered seeing the shirt.  “I think it’s pink,” she said. “What’s the problem? If they don’t like the shirt, they don’t have to buy it”, she replied.

According to Susanna Kim from the ABC News website, The Children’s Place had the following to say about the t-shirt:

We take feedback from our customers very seriously,” the Facebook post explained on Monday. “It has come to our attention that some of you view our Best Subjects T shirt as insensitive towards girls and women. This was not our intent. There are countless women in all walks of life who excel in math, including our very own CEO. We have pulled this product from our stores and we want to express our apologies to anyone we may have offended.

When my sister called me later in the day, she explained that the shirt was indeed no longer on the shelves.  This is an example of public relations at work.  If your public does not like your product or think it is insensitive, you have to respect those opinions and do whatever is necessary to correct those mistakes.

I think this little issue is relevant because we have been discussing how important social media has become in the public relations field.  Through its social media site, The Children’s Place was able to get its apology out to the world in record time and also ensure that more people were instantly able to see the apology.  This proves that our professors are indeed correct, social media is becoming a major tool in the public relations field, and we as practitioners will have to stay abreast of the current trend to succeed.  I think we are all up to the challenge.

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