In a testament to his marketing prowess, rapper and businessman Jay-Z whipped folks into a frenzy when he pulled inspiration from the grassroots movement Occupy Wall Street to coin a clever new phrase and t-shirt line, ‘Occupy All Streets.’ Jay-Z was spotted with Russell Simmons wearing the “Occupy All Streets” t-shirt backstage at his Watch the Throne concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and Simmons, a supporter of Occupy Wall Street, tweeted the picture–creating a frenzy that led fans straight to the Rocawear website, where the t-shirt was made available for a humble sum of $22.
But Jay-Z’s marketing genius turned into a marketing nightmare for Rocawear when a rep made clear profits from the Occupy All Streets shirts were for the company’s bank account, not the economic justice movement from which it drew its inspiration. The rep said in this statement to Gawker.com:
“Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.”
Nobody made clear how long it would take Rocawear to make an “official commitment to monetarily support the movement,” but protesters were not willing to wait one minute. Russell and Jay-Z received a slew of tweets condemning their actions. One of the leaders of the Occupy Movement, who goes by the name Grimm had some words for Jay-Z via TMZ:
“Jay-Z, as talented as he is, has the political sensibility of a hood rat and is a scrotum. To attempt to profit off of the first important social moment of 50 years with an overpriced piece of cotton is an insult to the fight for economic civil rights known as #occupywallstreet.”
Russell quickly came to Jay-Z’s defense with a little finger-pointing of his own: “No one ever said the proceeds were not going to the cause that’s media’s spin,” he tweeted.
Too little, too late Russell. The t-shirts are no longer available on the site and Jay-Z has taken a blow to his image in the process. Seriously, what were they thinking?
Share your thoughts: Do you think Rocawear and Jay-Z have an obligation to donate a portion of the proceeds from t-shirt sales to the movement?