Good Taste Goes Down With The Titanic

Daily Echo: Steiff's Titantic Teddy Bear Steiff's Titantic Teddy Bear

How should my shop react to the Titanic 100th anniversary? How will my customers want to mark the Night To Remember?

At a recent trade fair, I came across a stand full of Titanic branded products. Given that our Winchester shop is only a few miles from Southampton, a port forever associated with the ill fated ship, I thought there could be something for local people who want to commemorate the tragic event.

What confronted me was an array of items from aprons to ash trays to mugs and even a toddler’s t-shirt with the slogan ‘Captain’s Little Helper’ or words to that effect. While I had realised that the Titanic would be big business this year, I was still taken aback by this exploitation- celebration, even- of a disaster that killed over 1500 people.

Later I looked up Titanic merchandise on the internet. There are plenty of scale models, newspaper reproductions, framed photos and so on- the sort of thing you would expect. But what I also discovered was a huge number of products that seem to me to be of questionable taste, including underpants, babies’ bibs and Titanic swimming club t-shirts. Am I being over sensitive? After all, everyone associated with the ship is now dead.

Of course people will want to remember the 100th anniversary for more than the loss of life: the impressiveness of the liner, admiration for the crew who helped save so many and the hubris in saying the ship was unsinkable. To be fair, quite a bit of the celebratory merchandise seems to be centred on Belfast. Given that the ship was built and launched there, they are justifiably proud of the engineering achievement.

It may be that the tragic side of the event resonates more strongly with Britain’s greatest passenger liner port. Those of us with Southampton connections find little to celebrate. I imagine the city’s new SeaCity Museum will show some restraint in the merchandise it sells.

I don’t object to people making money out of the anniversary by satisfying the demand for tasteful mementoes. That would be hypocritical since my shop is selling a replica of the Steiff Teddy produced at the time of the sinking, as well as a modern version. However, these are sober black bears of historical interest that clearly mourn the loss of life.

What intrigues me is who would want to buy an amusing baby vest or a pair of boxer shorts in remembrance of such a tragic event?

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Comments (4)

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12:46pm Mon 13 Feb 12

waltons11 says...

I totally agree with you - this cannot be called memorabilia, it is cheap tat produced by Companies just trying to make money in any way they can. They have no morals or scruples. I would hope that the Sea city museum will not stock any of this rubbish and glad you will not either. Nice to see some people still have principles.
I totally agree with you - this cannot be called memorabilia, it is cheap tat produced by Companies just trying to make money in any way they can. They have no morals or scruples. I would hope that the Sea city museum will not stock any of this rubbish and glad you will not either. Nice to see some people still have principles. waltons11
  • Score: 0

12:21pm Thu 16 Feb 12

Taskforce 141 says...

Whilst I agree with most of what you are saying re celebrating a disaster, my sense of humour made me giggle at the 'Titanic swimming club' T-shirt. Its slightly wrong, toating the line, but with very little to laugh or smile at with all that is going on at the moment a is it really a priority?
Whilst I agree with most of what you are saying re celebrating a disaster, my sense of humour made me giggle at the 'Titanic swimming club' T-shirt. Its slightly wrong, toating the line, but with very little to laugh or smile at with all that is going on at the moment a is it really a priority? Taskforce 141
  • Score: 0

11:03am Sun 26 Feb 12

snapperdownunder says...

Shouldn't that be "commemorating" and not "celebrating" the disaster?
As for Titanic, I feel everyone should leave it alone and respect it as a grave site.... not make money out of people's suffering.
Shouldn't that be "commemorating" and not "celebrating" the disaster? As for Titanic, I feel everyone should leave it alone and respect it as a grave site.... not make money out of people's suffering. snapperdownunder
  • Score: 0

7:29pm Mon 27 Feb 12

fuzzyfelt says...

my great grandad was a stoker or fire man on the titanic he went down with the ship ...regarding the tat available to supposedly remember this catastrophe its a bit like haveing a mug or a teapot made to commemorate the japanese earth quake or even the tsunami ...outrageous , shameful and distateful
my great grandad was a stoker or fire man on the titanic he went down with the ship ...regarding the tat available to supposedly remember this catastrophe its a bit like haveing a mug or a teapot made to commemorate the japanese earth quake or even the tsunami ...outrageous , shameful and distateful fuzzyfelt
  • Score: 0

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I co-own Your Life Your Style the home and gifts shop in the Brooks Centre Winchester which also sells online at yourlifeyourstyle.co.uk. I love running a small business. The headlines go to the companies turning over billions of pounds but nearly half the UK economy is powered by small to medium size businesses. Small businesses lead change and offer a huge range of challenges. Having spent my early working life in retailing, I moved into arts marketing including many years as the Head of Marketing and Operations at The Mayflower Theatre. I still provide marketing and PR support to small businesses. Paul Lewis

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