Wednesday, August 17, 2005

An emerging channel for memes: T-shirts

a follow-up to john's prior post on leveraging humans as billboards.




"Mr Housing Bubble" shirts strike chord, draw ire

Striking a chord with uneasy U.S. property investors, T-shirtHumor.com's latest design -- "Mr. Housing Bubble" -- has become its best seller in less than a week.
The parody of the decades-old Mr. Bubble bath foam package offers a "Free Balloon Mortgage Inside." But the smiling pink house-shaped bubble also warns: "If I pop, you're screwed."
A disclaimer at the bottom reads, "Not affiliated with Mr. Internet Bubble."
Anthony Phipps, T-shirtHumor.com communications director, said the Austin, Texas-based t-shirt design and marketing firm has sold hundreds of the $20 cotton shirts since they went on sale last week.
He said the design had the right mix of market timing and dark humor.
"I think it's pretty clear that there are a lot of people in fear over the potential of a housing bust," Phipps said. "A lot of individuals have made some interesting moves financially with interest-only mortgages and the idea of suddenly having all that equity disappear is something that scares home buyers and policy-makers alike."
But the Realty Times newsletter chafed at the notion that real estate prices have reached unsustainable levels, declaring in a headline, "Mr. Housing Bubble T-shirts Indicate Market Confusion."
Arguing that Americans are widely benefiting from adjustable-rate mortgages that make monthly payments more affordable, columnist Blanche Evans said some pundits in the financial press were simply trying to scare real estate investors into shifting their money back into stocks.
Even Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, with his recent ominous talk about froth in some U.S. housing markets, has not been able to slow an eight-year housing boom that has absorbed one-third of the nation's investment wealth, Evans wrote.
"Mr. Housing Bubble may get a lot of washings before it wears out," she said.

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