Cotton On, for those of you who mightn’t have one in your local mall, is sort of like an Australian version of Gap. Except cheaper. And without all those phoney arseholes wearing headsets pretending they care about you by asking how your day is going before lying to you about how great those khakis/cords/jeans make your bum look.
There was a recent uproar over a line of bubs slogan-tees that they launched. Below, I’m going to list them, in ascending order of bad taste:
5. ‘Drive it Like You Stole It’ (With a Picture of a Pram). Perhaps almost cute. Not quite as distasteful as some, but sounds like something a teenager would’ve penned
4. ‘F.B.I.’ with ‘Farts Burps Insomnia’ in small print underneath. I find this particularly irksome since they don’t even have the FBI in this country. Use your own damn acronyms
3. ‘I’m a Tits Man’ The word tits is in the same category with the word panties: cringe-inducing. Men use it, women hate it. Ok when talking about boobs of the proportion of Pamela Anderson. Appropriate - arguably even funny - in movies like American Pie. Does NOT (under any circumstances) belong on a bubs tee-shirt. Are you listening, global marketeers?
2. ‘The Condom Broke’ / ‘I’m Living Proof My Mum is Easy’ are tied for the coveted number 2 position. Does not even warrant a pithy comment from moi.
1. ‘They Shake Me’ Seriously? Remember Louise Woodward, the supposedly perfect English nanny who was accused of killing her charge by shaking him to death? This is beyond irreverent humour, this is trivialising abuse. What next? ‘Grandpa is a paedophile’?
Maybe it’s just a Gen Y thing. Maybe as much as I hate to admit it, I might just be getting old in not finding any of these even the least bit funny. In fact, after reading these, all I could picture was Nicole Ritchie (or the like) and her tattooed partner yucking it up in the shop before buying a batch to take home and distribute to their uber-hip friends.
Now admittedly, we all use our kids to make statements, consciously or not. We don't always sign on for that, but some one has to do it. Of course they are extensions of our beliefs and values. We give them the haircuts we think are appropriate, buy them the toys we want (someone out there is still buying Bratz dolls) and dress them the way we like. I’m still waiting to see a baby sporting a tiny black and red Che Guevera number or a Palin 2012 tee shirt. But in this case, I don’t know even know what – or who – they were going for, since ribald humour and babies do not go together. Ever. Think milk and orange juice, Red Sox and Yankees, Keats and Donne.
The Cotton On group describes themselves as a ‘winning combination of globally relevant fashion at affordable prices.’ Well gee, now that you mention it, child abuse is globally relevant. But not when it sounds like a slogan coined by Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay on a baby’s tee shirt. This also begs the question of how many round tables did these slogans undergo before even making it to the manufacture-and-distribute phase. And which oh-so-hip-and-clever CEO gave his final stamp of approval? I’m ageistly assuming that the CEO is a thirty-something; a quick google search unsurprisingly didn’t produce a name, and rightfully so - whoever it is is probably still in hiding.
The hullabaloo has died down since this happened, and the usual finger-in-the-dike steps have been taken: the canned corporate ‘apology’ followed by the pulling of the items from the stores.
I should take comfort that these slogans have even caused controversy. And no doubt, so does Cotton On, since bad publicity is always better than no publicity. I just never thought I’d be part of the moral majority. But then, having kids does all sortsa funky things to you…