A JCPenney billboard off of the Interstate 405 advertising a tea kettle has ignited a controversy over what some local passerby claim is a blatant resemblance to Adolf Hitler. The kettle was designed by Michael Graves, an American architect who has designed similar tea pots and other popular household products for decades. While some viewers claim not to see the likeness, others are demanding an apology from the troubled franchise.
The billboard attracted attention earlier this week when Reddit user “Wrestles4Food” uploaded two photos of it onto the Internet message board – one blurry and one focused – for users to compare. “OMG I saw this last week and thought the same thing but was too embarrassed to post it,” one Reddit user wrote. “I saw this yesterday and my bf told me I was crazy, now I feel better that I'm not the only one who saw this,” another added.
While the post inspired dozens of World War II-themed puns, outside of Reddit, not everyone agreed that there was a striking similarity. On Twitter, several users complained that the meme was a long shot, even by so-called Reddit standards.
I can't be the only one who thinks that JC Penney Hitler kettle is a total reddit-reach.
â€” jeremy hughes (@photoatomic) May 28, 2013
â€” queen_elisheba ૐ (@queen_elisheba) May 28, 2013
The resemblance also seemed lost on JCPenney customers, who praised the tea pot’s beauty on the store’s website. “Wow this Tea Kettle is beautiful!!! I love looking at it on my stovetop every day. It is functional art,” one reviewer wrote. “This is my third Michael Graves designed tea kettle. So glad that JCP is carrying his collection. Wonderful look in my country kitchen,” another user wrote.
The AdWeek website, which covers advertising and branding news, described the billboard as a potential disaster for JCPenney, which is already struggling to regain its footing after a disastrous 2012. On Tuesday JCPenney tweeted responses to 16 different accounts including stand-up comic Patton Oswalt and actress Mia Farrow, calling the tea kettle’s resemblance to Hitler “totally unintentional,” but suggesting that it could add kitsch value to the product.
“Well JC Penney, get ready to sell a S---LOAD of these teakettles to a lot of ironic hipsters,” Oswalt tweeted to the company. “Totally unintentional. But they'll need to grab it in stores since it's sold out online. #SadHipsters” JCPenney tweeted in response. In multiple tweets to other users, the company also added that if they had intended to include a subliminal design, “we would have gone with a snowman.”