'Strange Fruit' PR Faces Twitter Backlash, Confirms Name Change

'Strange Fruit' PR Faces Twitter Backlash, Confirms Name Change

Twitter users critiqued the white co-founders for what many consider to be an insensitive name choice.

Published December 8, 2014

An Austin public relations firm recently experienced the wrath of an outraged Twitter this past weekend.

Having been repeatedly called out for a name considered offensive to many, Strange Fruit PR has since vanished from the Internet. Critics slammed the firm’s insensitive use of the term made popular by the infamous Billie Holiday song about the lynching of African-Americans.

According to The Frisky, Ali Slutsky and Mary Mickel, the two white women behind Strange Fruit PR, had been made aware of the meaning behind the firm’s name in 2013.

“We thought the term ‘strange fruit’ could mean someone who really stands out in a crowd,” read a tweet from the Strange Fruit Twitter account in response to backlash.

However, by Monday afternoon, screenshots of the company’s statement of apology and website were the only remaining pieces of evidence pointing to the company’s major debacle. As The Washington Post reports, Strange Fruit PR’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages have already been removed.

In addition to scolding the PR firm for its name choice, many Twitter users also noted the irony of the whole incident.

"Wait you're a PR firm you are experts in PR lol,” tweeted one user.

“We were wrong,” the agency said in a statement to the Austin American-Statesman. “We extend our deepest and sincerest apologies for the offense caused by the name of our public relations firm.”

“We thought the name would be perfect for a hospitality PR firm that specializes in food and drink,” Mickel said. “We of course Googled to ensure that it was not taken elsewhere and found the Billie Holiday song online. Thinking it would have nothing to do with our firm, and since it was written in 1939 it wouldn’t be top of mind in the public consciousness. We now know we were naïve to think that, and should have known better.”

The company has confirmed that it will be operating under a new name.

Writer and Twitter activist Mikki Kendall proposed an alternative  solution: "I think we should have a rename @StrangeFruitPR contest,” she tweeted. "They use the name Black Twitter picks for them. Forever."

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(Photo: William Gottlieb/Redferns)

Written by Patrice Peck

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