A UK businessman hoping to create merchandise to sell to fans of singer Britney Spears has found himself instead lumbered with 10,000 misspelled T-shirts advertising a nationalist breakaway for a region of Northern France.
Karl Baxter, managing director of Wholesale Clearance UK Ltd – a company based in Poole, Dorset, specialising in “bankrupt and surplus stock, as well as end of line clearances to individuals and companies of all sizes” – had hoped to capitalise on the #FreeBritney movement and sell shirts to fans campaigning to end the ‘Oops!… I Did It Again’ star’s controversial conservatorship.
Unfortunately, a design error led to him instead buying 10,000 T-shirts emblazoned with the legend #freebrittany, seemingly calling for the independence of the historic region in northwestern France – famous for cider, a strong Celtic tradition and being popular with holidaymakers.
“We recently invested in a large quantity of #FreeBritney T-shirts in the hope that we could gather interest from fans and donate the proceeds to the cause,” Baxter told indy100.
Instead, Baxter was aghast when he saw the first examples and realised his error. He contacted his suppliers, but discovered that he was too late and the whole order had already been printed.
“It was a little bit of a shock when I saw that the T-shirts didn’t have the right name on,” he told Metro, with typical British understatement.
Spears’ recent battles to free herself from a conservatorship controlled by her 69-year-old father, Jamie Spears, have led to a popular fan movement supporting her fight, which coalesced online around the #FreeBritney hashtag.
The conservatorship has been in place since 2008 and was imposed by a Los Angeles court after Britney Spears suffered perceived mental health issues following a divorce. The conservatorship was split into two parts: one controlling her estate and financial affairs, the other regarding her as an individual. Both parts were placed under the control of her father.
The singer has since attempted to have the court-ordered arrangement amended in order to regain a certain amount of autonomy over her own life and it is this struggle which has led to the #FreeBritney campaign.
This movement has recently received widespread publicity due to her high-profile court appearances and her joyful reaction to being allowed to choose her own lawyer. A documentary film about her legal struggles – Framing Britney Spears – was released earlier this year and brought the issue further into the public eye.
Brittany, by contrast, has been a part of France since 1532, although it does have a unique Celtic history and a strong Breton nationalist movement, meaning that Mr Baxter’s T-shirts may have a niche market among those pushing for greater Breton autonomy.
However, he is mainly looking to Britney Spears fans to take the mountain of typo’d tees off his hands.
“We are still very keen to donate some of the proceeds to the cause, and that’s why we are appealing to the star’s young fans to overlook the error,” he said, hopefully.
The misspelled T-shirts are now on sale from the Wholesale Clearance UK website for a heavily reduced price of £3.99 each, with 20 per cent from each sale going to the official #FreeBritney movement.
Karl Baxter highlighted the need for Breton nationalists and Britney fans unconcerned by proper spelling to get in early to avoid the rush, however.
“As it stands we haven’t sold any T-shirts,” he told Metro, wistfully. ®