From the recent e-newsletter from CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America)….It all started with one letter from a prevention specialist in Bend, Oregon. On a recent back-to-school shopping trip, Cameo Chambers found t-shirts promoting binge drinking in her local Old Navy store.
The shirts carry messages such as “Beer Pressure – Worth Giving In To!” and “Sloshball Champions – Staggerin Falls, Hi.”
She wrote to the company and shared her concern with Oregon Partnership, a statewide organization dedicated to ending substance abuse and suicide. In response, Oregon Partnership has launched a campaign to have the shirts removed from stores. CADCA encourages all coalitions to follow suit and write to Old Navy’s parent company, Gap, Inc, requesting that they remove the shirts from store shelves.
In a letter to Glenn Murphy, CEO of Gap, Inc, Old Navy’s parent company headquartered in San Francisco, Oregon Partnership said the sale of such items to a young customer base is repugnant and goes against the company’s pledge of social responsibility.
“Oregon Partnership and other anti-drug coalitions around the country will not let go of this,” said Pete Schulberg, Oregon Partnership’s Communications Director. “Other retail chains have stopped the sale of these t-shirts because they know that promoting binge drinking to young people is something they don’t want to be a part of.”
In a written reply to OP’s request Chris Wingenfield of Gap Customer Relations said “at Old Navy, we strive to offer merchandise that appeal to a wide range of interests….it is never our intention to offend our customers and we apologize for any concerns related to our product.”
But Oregon Partnership President/CEO Judy Cushing termed Gap’s response “wholly unsatisfying.”
“Oregon Partnership and other anti-drug coalitions are making inroads in informing parents, educators, and the business community about how alcohol use among adolescents is even more dangerous to their developing brains than previously believed,” said Cushing. “But for the culture to be changed, retailers such as Gap and Old Navy need to play their part.”
The price of the t-shirts was lowered to $5.00 on the weekend before the start of most public schools in the state. “It is obvious to us that Old Navy is marketing the shirts to the back-to-school crowd, which is irresponsible and hypocritical,” Schulberg said.
During last year’s holiday season, the store prominently displayed t-shirts with a Christmas tree and the words “Let’s Get Lit.” Another showed an elf drinking from a keg.
This is not the first time a popular chain has sold something that glamorizes alcohol or drug use. Other national chains have sold similar items in the past but have discontinued their sale after receiving complaints from coalitions throughout the country.