The Fox series “Sleepy Hollow” drew ire on social media Tuesday for a marketing campaign touting “National Beheading Day” on the same day the world learned terrorist group ISIS claimed to have decapitated American journalist Steven Sotloff.
In a case of unfortunate timing, commemorative eCards declaring #HeadlessDay were released to promote of the show’s upcoming season one DVD and Blu-ray. “Hollow” wasn’t deliberately trying to invoke the day’s tragic news; the campaign was intended to invoke the show’s Headless Horseman character.
Naturally, that had some on social media crying foul considering not just the Sotloff tragedy, but the killing of another American journalist, James Foley, just weeks ago at the hands of ISIS.
JJ Mariani, a publicist with Think Jam, the publicity firm charged with handling the campaign, said his company learned of Tuesday’s ISIS incident on CNN just minutes after issuing the Headless Day press release. The firm quickly issued a retraction and apology, but by then the campaign had made its way to social media.
“We apologize for the unfortunate timing of our Sleepy Hollow Headless Day announcement,” the firm said in a statement. “The tragic news of Steven Sotloff’s death hit the Web as the email was being sent. Our deepest sympathies are with him and his family, and we don’t take the news lightly. Had we have known this information prior, we would have never released the alert and realize it’s in poor taste.”
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment also issued the following statement: “Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment recognizes and apologizes for today’s promotion for the Season One DVD release of Sleepy Hollow. We regret the unfortunate timing of our announcement and our deepest sympathies go out to the families of all involved.”
The “Hollow” marketing team actually didn’t invent National Beheading Day; there are articles on the Sept. 2 holiday going back several years.
The “Sleepy Hollow” season one DVD and Blu-ray will be released Sept. 16.