The Children’s Place Needs to Grow Up


Image: abcnews.com

The Children’s Place has removed a controversial T-shirt from its stores after a backlash on social channels. But the real question for The Children’s Place is how can the company be so out of touch with its customers?

The shirt says, "My Best Subjects" on top and has checks in boxes next to shopping, music and dancing. A box next to math, at the bottom of the list, is blank and underneath it says, "Well, nobody's perfect."

Not only does the T-shirt insult young girls everywhere, but betrays a stunning lack of knowledge by The Children’s Place about macros changes in society, as women now graduate universities and colleges at a higher rate then men and perform better academically. Did Children’s Place actually think that the message on the T-shirt would empower young girls? This is a blatant disregard for PR 101.

The outcry started with the photo of the recently pulled shirt, spilled over into comments on the entire Children’s Place Facebook page, according to NJ.com. The website added that the post generated thousands of angry messages on Twitter.

Perhaps Rebecca Kenton from Philadelphia had the best response to the controversy. According to NJ.com, she posted a photo on The Children's Place Facebook page with this message: "NOT cute, Children's Place. This is not 1953. Stop making it fashionable for girls to be dumb. Parents are sick of this garbage."

We’re all for infusing humor and/or nostalgic to spread the word out about a product or service. But The Children’s Place T-shirt—which is now most likely destined as a case study on how to alienate your customers and erode your brand— is unfunny and a blatant anachronism.

Has the brand manager at The Children’s Place been living on Mars for the last 20 years, with a pillow over his head? This dustup could have been avoided if The Children’s Place was paying attention to cultural changes or, dare we say, listening a little more closely to its constituents.

Imagine that.

Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1




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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.



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