Satirists cash in on oil spill

bp_oil_tshirt.top.jpgDespair Inc.'s snarky t-shirt has turned into a bestseller. By Catherine Clifford, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- BP's oil spill is an expensive disaster for the Gulf Coast, but it's turning into a gold mine for satirists.

Hundreds of parody products are now on sale across the Web, taking aim at BP's sunburst logo and "responsibility" pledges. There's tote bags and buttons on Etsy, coffee mugs on Zazzle, and t-shirts on nearly every e-tail site with a PayPal button.

Buyers are snapping them up. Despair Inc., a popular retailer of black-humored merchandise, got into the game early, releasing a t-shirt three weeks ago with the slogan "BP: We're bringing oil to American shores."

A typical bestselling product moves a few hundred units for the small, Austin-based company. The BP design has sold a close to 2,000 shirts, according to Lawrence Kersten, Despair's co-founder.

"When you have a combination of cultural relevance and wittiness and cultural appeal, people respond," Kersten says of the shirts' raging success. Despair recently added a second shirt to its BP line, depicting the sunny BP logo dripping with oil.

Snark is also paying off for StreetGiant, a fledgling fashion site whose founders created an oil-splattered "bp cares" shirt to raise money for HealthyGulf.org. The satiric Twitter feed that publicizes the shirts, @BPGlobalPR, has drawn more than 28,000 followers -- five times the number following BP's actual Twitter account.

With cavalier messages like "Catastrophe is a strong word, let's all agree to call it a whoopsie daisy," the fake feed has sucked in more than a few Twitter followers mistaking it for the real thing. Sample response, from @tehchickgamer: "I can't help but be disgusted by your tweets. Shouldn't you be taking this more f***ing seriously? You're making a joke."

So far, BP (BP) is letting parodists have their way with its logo. With the oil spill still pumping at least 200,000 gallons a day into the Gulf of Mexico, the company has bigger problems right now than online satirists.

It hasn't asked Twitter to suspend the mock BPGlobalPR account, according to BP spokesman Mark Salt.

"People are entitled to express their views in whichever way they wish," Salt said.

He had no comment on the raft of satirical products for sale, reiterating that the public is free to comment as they like.

But the jokers and the battered oil company agree on one point: Everyone wants to see the leak capped. The latest effort is an experimental "top kill" capping maneuver BP is testing on Tuesday -- the same day rig operator Transocean held a memorial service for the 11 workers killed when the rig exploded.

"Even though we want our shirts to sell, we obviously hope that the spill is going to get cleaned up and that the issue is going to get resolved," said Despair's Kersten. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Questions & Answers



QHow does a florist sell more in this economy? We changed our business to designing weddings and events only, as the everyday flowers are not selling. We had to throw out too much product at the end of the week -- flowers are perishable! More
Get Answer
- The Flower Lady, Suwanee, Ga.
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.12%4.00%
15 yr fixed3.14%3.00%
5/1 ARM3.25%3.01%
30 yr refi4.17%4.06%
15 yr refi3.21%3.09%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:

Sections

Susan Wojcicki said the rate of new moms leaving Google fell by 50% after the company began offering 18 weeks of paid maternity leave. More

The shale boom has been a blessing to Texas, but tumbling oil prices are casting a shadow over the state. More

Susan Wojcicki said the rate of new moms leaving Google fell by 50% after the company began offering 18 weeks of paid maternity leave. More

With two recent IPOs and a digitally-inclined audience of entrepreneurs, non-traditional financing could finally get its big break. More

Payday lenders are spending millions of dollars in Washington in an attempt to get powerful politicians on their side as a government crackdown on the industry heats up. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.