Don't Make Walmart's Mistake: T-shirt Pulled After Accidental Profanity
You really can't overstate how important a second pair of eyes can be. When you're designing apparel or any other promotional product, you need to make sure that it looks correct, the colors are the right shades, and that some extremely hated word doesn't accidentally appear.
Whoever printed a shirt that sold at Walmart skipped that last step, as a T-shirt touting environmentalism accidentally showcased one of the most disliked words in English.
I need this shirt before Walmart realizes what they have done.
Find the hidden word. 😏😅 pic.twitter.com/OtiWsFlk3c
— ƒℓαѕкѕ вєƒσяє тαѕкѕ (@whosurdaddienow) April 3, 2023
Yeah, that's a pretty big oopsie.
Wowwww , as someone that prints clothing for a living, I’m amazed this made it to the shop floor 🤣 they had to know surely?! https://t.co/pCNl1xn4uQ
— Laura_MUFC (@ms_manutd) April 5, 2023
So are we, @Laura_MUFC. So are we.
You could definitely see someone printing this on purpose to generate the exact kind of attention it's getting, Walmart said in a statement to The Independent that the design's "hidden word" was accidental, and that the T-shirt has been removed from stores. Before it got all of this social media attention, it was on sale for $5 in Walmart's Canadian locations as part of its George brand, which also supplies apparel to ASDA stores in the U.K.
It's a big mistake, but it's one that Walmart can easily rectify. Still, it brings up a few conversation points relevant to the promotional products industry. First of all, it underscores the importance of really analyzing your designs to make sure that there isn't anything anyone could find offensive. Having multiple people look at a design helps with this.
Also, it brings up the idea of controversy to fuel engagement and visibility. This T-shirt, if printed as intended without the swear word, would not be making waves on social media or in the news. Why would it? It would be a fine, but mostly forgettable, T-shirt. Is it true that there's no such thing as bad publicity? What kind of engagement does your client want?
Finally, to that last point there, what do you do when your client wants to print something potentially offensive or "edgy" in a design? How do you work with them to find a balance between eye-catching and offensive? Where do you draw your own lines, and how do you educate customers on how they should brand themselves? Do you educate them at all, or just tell them to do business elsewhere?
Keep an eye on places like eBay for this T-shirt. We know the resale game for sort of off-color or misprinted promotional products is booming.
Related story: The 'Indiana Jones' Promo Collection is Fun, But Features Spelling Errors
Brendan Menapace is the senior digital editor for Promo Marketing. While writing and editing stories come naturally to him, writing his own bio does not.