Streetwear brand The Hundreds staged a fake protest copying the anti-gay and racist Westboro Baptist Church to promote its non-fungible token (NFT) collection — during pride month and a day after Juneteenth.
The tone-deaf marketing stunt took place in Manhattan on Monday outside of one of the brand’s pop-up shops. Actors pretending to be protesters held up signs that read “God Hates NFTs” — a play on Westboro’s infamous “God Hates F***” slogan.
Since 1991, the hate group’s signs have plagued the funerals of US military personnel, restaurants that hired gay staff, and concerts by trans performers.
The fashion firm’s co-founder Bobby Kim told Ad Age that he personally came up with all of the slogans for the fake protest and hired actors to march with the placards outside his store on Grand Street, Manhattan.
Other slogans minted by Kim included ‘Make Fiat Great Again,’ ‘Vitalik is the Anti-Christ,’ and ‘Repent or Get Rugged.’
The timing of the stunt — June 20 — was either highly unfortunate or deliberately provocative. The month of June is widely recognized as a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and June 19 (Juneteenth) commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the US. A Juneteeth public holiday is held on June 20, the same day as the fake protest.
“We orchestrated the whole thing… Let’s not take this so seriously, we’re all having fun. Let’s just be hopeful,” Kim told Ad Age.
Despite the controversy over the timing, it appears that Kim was more interested in the battle between detractors and proponents of digital assets. “I find the line between the skeptics and the devotees to be really interesting within crypto,” he added.
The Hundreds’ NFT collection Adam Bomb Squad is essentially a CryptoPunk rip-off. It comprises 25,000 iterations of the brand’s mascot in various colors against different garish backdrops. According to OpenSea, just under 9,000 users own the NFTs and the collection has a floor price of 0.43 ETH ($1,160 at press time).
The fake march is part of a week of events timed to coincide with the NFT.NYC conference. For last year’s conference, Kim bought a Times Square billboard that read “NFTs are a scam.” The same phrase featured on a corresponding clothing line.
It’s worth noting that the clothing brand has used Westboro Baptist Church motifs before. The Hundreds has previously released a line of t-shirts with the slogan “God hates streetwear,” employing the same colorful design that the hate group uses on their placards.
Protos approached The Hundreds and Adam Bomb Squad for a response, at press time we are yet to receive a reply.
Pride month isn’t safe from NFT cash grabs
Elsewhere, a raft of Pride-focused NFT projects have been attempting to flog digital art in the name of LGBT+ inclusivity.
Pride Icons, for example, sells NFT pop art created by artist Max Bahman and offers NFTs with three tiers of benefits. The introductory level will get you discounts on surrogacy at the Tammuz Family clinic and facial plastic surgery. However, it fails to mention the surgeon that will perform the cut-price facelift.
Also, Givency’s perfume offshoot has teamed up with queer gallery owner Amar Singh and Rewind artist collective to create an NFT Pride collection. Its NFT sales will support Le MAG Jeunes, a french organization that campaigns for and supports LGBT+ youth.
Elsewhere, metaverse platforms The Sandbox and Decentraland held Pride events. Both metaverses have partnered with large brands like Mastercard and NYX Cosmetics to encourage attendees to purchase limited-edition NFTs.
In any case, Pride celebrations continue in New York across the month of June. NYC Pride’s march is set to happen on Sunday 29.