When a controversy about Nazi-related images on t-shirts is largely contained within the blogosphere, it is easy for companies to pretend that it’s a small issue. But if coverage then extends to the front pages of national newspapers, then it can become a major reputation problem.
Blog outrage about Hipster Hitler t-shirts on RedBubble led to criticisms of CEO Martin Hosking, who is also chairman of global construction collaboration technology vendor Aconex – see my 1 June post. In addition to the numerous comments on that post, I also received emails about other questionable RedBubble-marketed garments: baby and childrens’ clothes with images of serial killers on them. Other email recipients included journalist Susie O’Brien of the Australian newspaper, The Melbourne Sun Herald (print circulation c. 430,000; readership 1m+), which reported the story on its front page yesterday (11 June), and it is now being carried on several other news outlets in Australia; it has also been shared over 600 times on Facebook and on Twitter and LinkedIn.
However, it remains to be seen if this latest storm will impact on Aconex; the article did not mention Mr Hosking by name (though he has been mentioned online, eg: here), nor his other business interests. The next few days could be interesting….