Mid-October, The New York Daily News reported that Urban Outfitters pulled a book written by Gawker Media’s Jezebel blog due to harsh posts on the site that bashed the company. The book — The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things — is a guide to feminism, pop culture, fashion and much more.
Here are a few examples of what Jezebel wrote about Urban Outfitters:
• Urban Outfitters Pulls Least Offensive UO Product From Stores
• Williamsburg’s New Urban Outfitters Will Offer Upscale Food From Hell
• 6 Hideous Shoes Urban Outfitters Is Trying to Sell You
• Urban Outfitters Really Doesn’t Want You to Know About Its Bed Bug Problem
The book was regarded as one that Urban Outfitters’ customers would likely have purchased. The clothing company sold a 2012 Jezebel book, and the publisher was surprised by Urban Outfitter’s decision not to carry the new book. In response to the conflict between the two companies, Gawker Media founder Mark Denton said,
“Urban Outfitters should realize that criticism from the women of Jezebel is a rite of passage.”
Dropping the book is not a clear-cut good PR decision for Urban Outfitters though. While no sales figures from the previous Jezebel book that the clothing store carried could be found online, it is possible that they may miss a significant source of profits. Urban Outfitters has also likely permanently damaged their relationship with the blog and its parent company, Internet powerhouse Gawker Media, ensuring many years of critical headlines to come.
What would you do if you were in Urban Outfitter’s position? Would you drop the book, or seek a way to reconcile with Jezebel? What PR strategies would you use to rebuild your image following Jezebel’s criticism?