Virgin Mobile succumbs to outcry over strip-for-charity campaign
New Strip2Clothe website, with “strip” crossed out and a blank inserted
Following a flood of public objection, Virgin Mobile, one of the nation’s largest cell phone companies, has stopped asking young people to broadcast striptease videos for charity.
As WND reported earlier, Virgin Mobile’s “Strip2Clothe” website invited supporters to submit videos of themselves stripping and promised to make a clothing donation to the homeless every time five people clicked to watch.
The site was promoted with slogans like, “You take off yours, we donate ours” and “Somewhere someone out there needs clothes more than you.”
Controversy and public outcry, however, moved the company to redesign its campaign, eliminating the stripping videos.
“We’re very pleased that Virgin Mobile decided to respect the sanctity of our children over the commercial value they may have gotten out of the controversy,” said David Caton, executive director of Florida Family Association, one of the groups active in protesting the campaign.
“We were concerned because we know through working with other organizations that homeless youth are routinely targeted by prostitution rings that tell them to take their clothes off,” Caton told WND. “Telling the youth of America that it’s okay to strip was a really bad message.”
Virgin Mobile’s redesigned website is now titled “Blank2Clothe” and is still based on donating clothes per a certain number of video views, but no longer encourages people to strip.
“At BLANK2CLOTHE,” the site now reads, “almost any verb goes – whether it be Skydive2Clothe, Yodel2Clothe, Bark2Clothe, or Contort2Clothe. You choose how you want to donate new clothing.”
The site also promises that “inappropriate behavior, nudity, profanity, and any videos in bad taste will not be posted.”
The public’s outcry affected more than Virgin Mobile. The campaign was originally created in partnership with the National Network for Youth, a Washington, D.C., lobbying group for more than 150 organizations to benefit young people who live on the streets.
Some NN4Y groups expressed outrage at the campaign, saying they were never consulted about the project, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
According to news reports, Rebecca Lentz, spokeswoman for Minnesota’s Catholic Charities said it’s “distasteful and inappropriate and exploitative. We never authorized this nor were we ever approached to be involved.”
NN4Y has since issued a news release stating, “To respect all the voices we heard – even those which were unkind – our board has decided that National Network for Youth will not officially partner with Virgin Mobile’s STRIP2Clothe campaign.”
Virgin Mobile also addressed the public’s outcry directly on the website, stating, “As we were raising the level of awareness, we realized the campaign was also causing some controversy.
“Some people didn’t like the ‘Strip’ in ‘Strip2Clothe’ and felt its connotations were inappropriate. And although it was this controversy that resulted in so much press highlighting the issue, we’ve listened to all of the input and ideas and believe it’s time to take the campaign to the next level.”