Because Los Angeles-based retailer, Kitson, didn't get enough press from the launch of Brian Lichtenberg's drug tees this summer, the retailer is boycotting NBC, its Today Show program and its advertisers. Fraser Ross, the trendy store's founder, took to the store's Facebook page to boycott the network and his team has reportedly been stuffing shoppers' bags with boycott manifestos. He is alleging that Today Show host Tamron Hall "practiced irresponsible journalism by voicing a negative, personal opinion regarding [Kitson]" to a national audience. Turns out, in a broadcast on August 28th, Hall said in regards to the shirts: “People should not shop [at Kitson] until they get that down. It’s irresponsible.” When Ross approach NBC and didn't get apology he wanted, the Kitson team posted his manifesto on the store windows of a number of Kitson locations, on shopkitson.com, on their Facebook page and even in shoppers' bags. You can read it in its entirely after the break below.
Oh and Ross isn't stopping. He said that he will not halt the boycott efforts until he gets an apology. Kitson executives are reportedly considering bringing up the point at a shareholder meeting for NBC’s parent company, NBCUniversal, scheduled for mid-2014. As for the t-shirts, they were designed by Lichtenberg (even though he reportedly stole the idea for the highly controversial design from a teenager - more about that HERE), are currently stocked at Kitson, and bear the names of several prescription drugs, including Vicodin and Xanax, among others.
Here is Kitson's manifesto, followed by the message Ross posted to Facebook. Also for your reading pleasure, catch the Lichtenberg brothers' lawsuits against each other HERE (Christopher Lichtenberg v. Brian Lichtenberg) and HERE (Brian Lichtenberg v. Chris Lichtenberg). Enjoy ...
To Our Customers,
Please seek alternative, balanced resources for morning entertainment and news other than Today on NBC.
Tamron Hall has practiced irresponsible journalism by voicing a negative, personal opinion regarding our business. Such comments made by a commentator with a national platform have the potential to cause irreparable damage. The revenue our business generates supports many; to attempt to negatively impact it by stating, “people should probably not shop there until they stop carrying the t shirts” and “It’s irresponsible” should not be tolerated.
To suggest customers not only refuse to buy the item, but refuse to shop entirely is tantamount to our asking that you not only boycott their show, but their advertisers as well.
Appealing to Tamron personally via Twitter, since the comments were made as a part of their trending on twitter segment, Kitson requested an apology the following day. Having not heard a response, we emailed Today’s Executive Producer, but did not hear back directly. Consequently phoning the new President of NBC, Deborah Turness, who has claimed in the Huffington Post that her first job is “to listen,” we did eventually speak with a producer on the show.
We discussed the overwhelming hypocrisy. It is possible to watch up to 16 hours per week of prescription drug commercials; this represents a great deal of advertising revenue for the networks. Approximately 95% of the ads play on the emotions of those who have the afflictions mentioned, and only approximately 18% of the ads ever mention lifestyle or behavioral changes that could potentially ameliorate the affliction. The t shirts are simply a mirror of what is occurring in our culture. Perhaps more discussion about those whose behavior truly contributes to the deaths every 19 minutes from prescription drugs, those who provide the opportunity for prescription drugs to fall into the hands of our youth, and those who flood the market with the ads, would be a more salient topic.
Had Kitson been offered the respect of an opportunity to comment, the company would have been able to voice its opinion, as we have embraced the passionate dialogue that Brian Lichtenberg’s t shirts and our decision to carry them has elicited. Many sources claim that the potential for drug addiction is drastically reduced by a parent, grandparent or guardian discussing the dangers of prescription drugs with a child. The national attention that this line has garnered has brought forth a very healthy level of discussion.
While Kitson welcomes the coverage of the issue by Today and stands by its products, it must defend its brand and refuse to allow a national anchor to disparage it. We understand the rush to present the news of our twitter trend, having already been covered by other media outlets, might have prevented proper research of both sides of the issue, but the call for customers to stop shopping is unwarranted.
We are awaiting Deborah Turness’ comments. Until then, we will maintain that Tamron Hall should be removed from her position as an anchor on Today, as well as from her post on MSNBC before she damages others in an irresponsible manner.