What the F*ck Is Urban Outfitters Thinking?

For retail brand Urban Outfitters–which targets the edgy, insubordinate teen demographic with such classic subject lines as “We’re having a FLASH SALE! And that seriously NEVER happens!”–pissing off the Christian “culture warriors” at One Million Moms should be considered collateral success. The two groups clearly have little in common, except for one odd thing:

The chairman and founder of Urban Outfitters is 68-year-old conservative Richard Hayne, who once donated thousands to former Senator, uber-Republican and failed presidential aspirant Rick Santorum. Yes, this is where the semantics get complicated.

All PR professionals know that successful brands are built on a foundation of values, promises and attributes that collectively comprise brand identity—including individuals who run or work for the brand. For example, when the public thinks of Virgin Airlines we see the flowing white locks of unfettered free spirit Richard Branson.

Sure, Mr. Hayne may not be the face of Urban Outfitters, but he is a vital part of the brand’s internal workings. So the public can be forgiven for asking “What the f*ck was he thinking?” when this year’s Urban Outfitters holiday catalog featured a “Let’s F*cking Reminisce” book and a “Merry Christmas B*tches” mug among other profanity-emblazoned offerings ranging from candles to T-shirts.

One Million Moms, of course, is on the case leveraging its voice to have these products removed from the Urban Outfitters holiday catalog. (Couldn’t they just call their ideological counterpart and political ally Mr. Hayne directly?) Either way, the organization may face a bigger enemy than UO: the public.

We are becoming increasingly immune to the moral baggage that the f-word and other profane mainstays used to enjoy. The censorship of this sort of language appears all the more laughable every time a TV producer bleeps out an f-bomb or a blogger uses a “*” instead of a “u.”

We doubt that Mr. Hayne cares all that much about the growing acceptance of “bad” words in our society and the resulting “moral decay”. Political beliefs and religious values aside, some people are simply all about money.

Maybe moms and teens do have something in common after all.