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Nancy Upton vs American Apparel: The problem with brands and the social web

Nancy Upton American Apparel

Here's an idea: Dear Brands, please stay out of the sandbox known as the social web until you learn to play nice and stop being obnoxious. It's fine, really, for you to take your ball home.

Ad Age reports that American Apparel has snubbed the winner of a contest, a contest that was set up to search for a plus-size model.

One "contestant," Nancy Upton, (pictured above) took umbrage at their ridiculous attempt to find "fat people" as she says, and decided to to do what the web allows people to do best - spoof the contest, brand-jack AA! She posted her photos to her Tumblr and by the time the contest closed she had become the undisputed most popular contestant! Yay, Nancy!

"I took that tone of theirs - "Hey fat people, you can play too" - and used it as an inspiration for my photos," she said. Shot by a friend, the size-12 Upton posed bathing in ranch dressing, pouring chocolate syrup into her mouth, and stuffing her face with chicken in a pool.

Unfortunately for plus-size girls around the world, American Apparel didn't like that they had been brand-jacked and that their search for overweight models was made fun of buy a plus-size girl. Oh no, that's not fair. So they took their ball home.

"It's a shame that your project attempts to discredit the positive intentions of our challenge based on your personal distaste for our use of lighthearted language, and that 'bootylicous' was too much for you to handle,” AA’s creative director, Iris Alonzo, wrote to Upton. (Oooh, snark!)

Which we could read as "Hey fat people, we made fun of you but it was a contest that you might win, so that's ok right? But someone who made fun of our attempt at humor at the expense of others, was made fun of by someone who we were looking for who actually won. So she's not the winner, ok?"

It's like an excerpt from 'American Apparel - the high school catfight...' Pathetic AA. Please grow up.

[Update] Nancy's been gathering up links to her story.

Can we separate the word social from media? Please?

Arrington, TechCrunch, Shaker: Not disruption