Urban Outfitters' drug-themed line draws fire

The edgy accessories are sparking more controversy for the envelope-pushing retailer. Will that help or hurt its sales?

By Aimee Picchi May 8, 2013 10:42AM

Syringe Shot Shooters from Urban Outfitters.com (© UrbanOutfitters.com)What could go wrong with prescription-pill shot glasses and syringe shot shooters (pictured) that are targeted at 18- to 24-year-olds? 

As Urban Outfitters (URBN) is finding out, just plenty. While the retailer has maintained its hold on youth culture by pushing the envelope, its latest line of accessories has drawn condemnation from critics, including the Partnership at Drugfree.org. 

The retailer -- which is selling a line of glassware that includes pint glasses, flasks and shot glasses that resemble prescription medicine containers -- is putting "more teens at risk" by marketing the products, Drugfree.org charges. The group is asking consumers to email, write a letter or sign a Facebook petition to urge the retailer to pull the items. 

The glasses are clearly meant to be tongue-in-cheek products, with Urban Outfitters telling shoppers to "fill that liquid poison prescription" with the "boozemin flask," for example. But Drugfree.org says the company's lighthearted approach is part of the problem because it makes fun of prescription drug misuse and abuse. 

"Medicine abuse has increased 33 percent over the past five years, with one in four teens having misused or abused a prescription drug in their lifetime," Drugfree.org notes. Throwing alcohol into the mix doesn't help, it adds. 

But given that the flask is on backorder until June 13, it appears the fake drug bottles have appealed to a portion of Urban Outfitter's demographic. 

Courting controversy is in Urban Outfitters' genes (and T-shirts). Last year, the chain offended Mothers Against Drunk Driving with a line of shirts that bore slogans such as "I Vote for Vodka" and "USA Drinking Team."

That's just one example in a long line of questionable inventory, as noted in this list by The Week magazine. (One misstep included an "Obama/Black" T-shirt in 2010, which prompted an apology from the retailer.)

Urban Outfitters, which also owns the Anthropologie and Free People chains, certainly isn't hurting from all the controversy, given that its stock has surged 58% during the past 12 months. And with net income that climbed 28% during its last fiscal year, the retailer may be laughing all the way to the bank. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi

More on moneyNOW

May 8, 2013 12:08PM
There are way too many fringe groups that want to ban anything that "offends" them.  Lighten up and get a life.
May 8, 2013 1:19PM
This isn't any more likely to increase use of drugs and alcholol than advertising KY yours and mine is to increase sexual activity.  Is there some way to stop the media before it hurts itself?
May 8, 2013 1:14PM
You people need something to do with your time.  I just wasted a few minutes of my life reading that stupidity.
if anyone is that stupid as to let this entice them to take pain meds or shoot-up......i don't think these shot glasses are the problem 
May 8, 2013 1:53PM
Omg! There's a prescription drug bottle, shot glasses, and syringes. Must. Do. Drugs....

May 8, 2013 2:18PM
If you don't like something don't buy it.  If you don't like the idea of a business then don't do business there.  PROBLEM SOLVED!  Nobody needs to be saved from themselves especially by the government!  
May 8, 2013 1:52PM
May 8, 2013 2:40PM
Urban Outfitters should send the idiots from Drugfree.org and MADD a thank you letter for increasing the popularity of their products.  I know I'm interested in supporting anything that pisses these dumba$$es off.
May 8, 2013 2:39PM

Everyone wants to be offended. What a bunch of pussies. I own a shot glass that says The More I Drink, The Prettier You Look. Does that make me go F fat ugly chicks? Nope. Its just funny. I also own a few that have WSU and the old Seattle Supersonic logos on them. Does that mean I think go to college or play professional basketball? Nope. I have one from The Hard Rock in Maui. I've never been to Maui. It was a gift. Have I broken any laws?? Now I'm scared of who this will offend.


Take off that new pair of I'm A Whiney B (tm) Goggles and try seeing things from a level-headed place. Oh, wait, that won't further your lame-**** causes...

May 8, 2013 2:12PM
if this will offend someone who thinks it might entice their children to take prescription drugs or drink alcohol then the millions of people who MUST take pain meds to be able to survive due to chronic pain should be offended because they are making fun of their physical problems.  Get a life......
May 8, 2013 2:59PM
I can think of a thousand more outrageous issues for people to whine about and yet they complain about the most asinine things. This is how the world ends: people complaining about the color of the dirt when the sky is falling on top of their heads.
May 8, 2013 2:29PM
But prescription meds and alcohol are both good for us and make us have a great time and be sexy while doing it.  Don't they?  Every ad I see extolls the virtues of being drunk and taking prescription meds.
May 8, 2013 1:56PM
Waste of time reading this-
Waste of time buying that-
All a bunch of crap.
May 8, 2013 6:35PM

Ever notice how that bottle of ABSOLUT vodka looks exactly like an IV supply container?

We have seen products similar to these in novelty stores and tourist gift shops for years. So what?

I have in front of me right now three glasses labeled "muddled wisdom". These were a gift from my adult children. They have sayings on them like "Thirst things first", You're younger than you drink", and "Work is the curse of the drinking class." I'm not offended, I offer my guests cocktails in them, and they get the humor. Duh!!!!  And no, they have not been cut out of my will.


What we are approaching here is what the Beatles referred to as "MIND CONTROL" in their lyrics.

I'm 74 years old and was a career military officer in the 60's and  70's. I didn't like the sexual revolution,

the "question authority movement", the SLA. the SDS, Joan Baez or any of the other micro revolutionaries of the time. But, when I read stories like this, I beleive I'm starting to think that they had a valid point.

May 8, 2013 1:31PM

I do not here them protesting all the wacky stuff in spencers, oh wait they stoped doing that twenty years ago when they figured out it added two there popularity.

May 8, 2013 2:18PM
if anyone ever offers you drugs, take them...i always gotta pay for 'em
May 8, 2013 4:50PM
Its not promoting drug and alcohol use, its funny! Its sort of a play on to 'pick your poison'. People know its bad, and they do it anyway, then they buy these products. Let people live like they want to. Go report on the bombings in Syria and the crime overseas, not petty, materialistic things like this ****.
May 8, 2013 2:52PM

im pretty sure the parents are "putting teens at risk"  if people are worried about a pill case shot glass, go do some meth outreach to make your conscience feel better.


outfitters is not putting anybody at risk, especially since it has less 1% of the novelty market.


this is so dumb.


go to a soup kitchen and feed the drug addicted and see if there life was irreparably harmed by a t-shirt, shot glass... or both.

May 8, 2013 1:47PM

Why would any1 wanna use those glasses or shot glasses?? you'd look like the complete tool of the group and would only end up being the videogame nerds who thought it was funny, that or a complete immature retard who only laughs at Pen15 jokes.

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished the Tuesday session on the defensive after spending the entire day in a steady retreat. The S&P 500 (-0.6%) posted its third consecutive decline, while the small-cap Russell 2000 (-0.9%) slipped behind the broader market during afternoon action.

Equity indices were pressured from the start following some overnight developments that weighed on sentiment. The market tried to overcome the early weakness, but could not stage a sustained rebound, ... More