Walmart removes pro-gun T-shirts and Verizon sells Tumblr: Tuesday Wake-Up Call

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Walmart removes pro-gun T-shirt listings
Walmart has removed T-shirts with pro-gun slogans from its website in the wake of the recent mass shootings, including at one of its stores in El Paso.

The move comes after the listings, from third-party vendors on the Walmart website, provoked outrage on social media with some calling them “disgusting” and “horrifying”. As Bloomberg reports, one shirt, for sale by a vendor called Tee’s Plus, suggested buyers can either be gun owners or victims. Another, offered by third-party seller Old Glory, says “gun control is being able to hit your target.”

As news reports started to emerge about the row, some of the original listings were removed, including the Tee’s Plus shirt. But not everyone was negative about the products: one commenter said: “most people in the country completely agree with the sentiment of this shirt.”  This is only the latest consequence of the shootings for Walmart: last week, it removed signage around violent video games.

Verizon offloads Tumblr
It was once seen as the social media jewel in Yahoo’s crown, but now Verizon has sold blog hosting site Tumblr to the owner of WordPress, the website publishing company, reports Ad Age’s Garett Sloane.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but according to Axios, once source said it was for less than $20 million. That’s a little sad for a brand that was acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion in 2013. But, as Sloane writes, “the promise of the union never paid off and by the time Verizon agreed to buy Yahoo in 2016 it seemed obvious that Tumblr would not fit the company’s long-term plans.”

Additionally, he points out, the sale means quality-conscious Verizon won’t have to deal with safety issues arising from Tumblr’s less controlled, user-generated environment, which included a child-porn problem last year.

Now Givenchy and Coach apologize to China
As democracy protests continue to paralyze Hong Kong, with its airport closed yesterday, more luxury brands are having trouble with China over sensitivities about its sovereignty. As the New York Times reports, following Versace’s apology on Sunday to China over a T-shirt that mislabeled Hong Kong and Macao as independent countries, now Givenchy and Coach are also having to issue statements about clothing that caused similar problems. 

Givenchy yesterday removed a T-shirt design that appeared to characterize Hong Kong and Taiwan as autonomous countries. In Coach’s case, its offending designs were actually removed from sale in May 2018, but that didn’t stop the company from rushing to apologize on Instagram. And model and actress Liu Wen ended a contract with the company, telling her followers she was sorry for her “less careful choice of brand.”

Just briefly:
Dope ideas: The Clio Awards has launched a new award for cannabis marketing, in partnership with High Times. The awards, which begin accepting entries on Aug. 26, will celebrate creators who are “at the forefront of marketing and advertising for cannabis products” according to a press release. Find out more here.

Merging: MediaMonks, the digital content shop Martin Sorrell ‘s S4 Capital acquired last year, is merging with Amsterdam-based influencer marketing agency IMA, writes Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse. The move will extend the reach of IMA, which works with brands like Pernod Ricard, Under Armour, Diesel and Microsoft, into the U.S.

Hispanic fact pack: The new issue of Ad Age contains our Hispanic Fact Pack 2019. Find out about the varying tastes, wants, needs, and attributes among the nation’s 60 million Hispanic consumers in the quick stats summary here.

NBA meets Disney: The National Basketball Association opened a new “NBA Experience” at Disney World in Orlando yesterday, reports Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz. The venue boasts interactive activities that attempt to give fans a glimpse of what it’s like to be an NBA athlete—including comparing their own vertical leap to that of a leading player.

Viral Video of the Day: A video made by film director Vincent Peone, who runs production house ArtClass, has gone viral on Twitter; it’s a record of his journey as the only passenger on a commercial Delta flight from Aspen to Salt Lake City. Check it out if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be alone on a plane (or simply wished you could be alone).

Podcast of the Day: In this week’s episode of Ad Age’s “Ad Block,” Wieden & Kennedy New York managing director Neal Arthur discusses his time as a teacher at a Catholic school and his love of Nike’s “Mars Blackmon” ads starring Spike Lee. And, he confesses, he doesn’t like the Beatles. Have a listen here.

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