An online storm broke out this week over Urban Outfitters Inc., and it intensified Thursday night when teen celebrity Miley Cyrus hopped onto Twitter to share a few thoughts of her own.
The TV/movie/music star's comments, which implicitly attacked the company for its founder's support of Republican causes, began not with the firepower of a high-paid marketing machine. Rather, they capped a frenzy that started with a single shout-out from a jewelry designer in Chicago with a Twitter account.
The designer, Stevie Koerner, posted this on Wednesday:
That midweek missive came from @imakeshinylove, an account belonging to Koerner. It linked to photos, on the Urban Outfitters website and her own, showing similar silver necklaces shaped like American states with hearts punched through the precious metal.
Her post begged the questions: Had Urban cribbed her designs? Were they her designs to begin with?
Friday morning, the company did not immediately return requests for comment about Koerner's claim, or about the broader online fury that ensued.
Nor did Koerner immediately return a request for an interview Friday, with activity on her Twitter account suggesting that she was overwhelmed by the online activity. Her original link to Urban Outfitters' online page no longer showed the necklace it had apparently been hawking or the photo that had been visible earlier in the week.
Hollywood caught wind of Koerner's claim after bloggers spread word of it across the Internet, adding their own unflattering opinions of the alleged affair along the way.
By Thursday evening, Cyrus, who has more than a million Twitter followers, chimed in.
The former Hannah Montana star posted a series of comments that included indirect shots at Urban's GOP-friendly chairman and founder Dick Hayne, and one of his most prominent conservative beneficiaries, former Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Love that everybody is hating on Urban Outfitters, Cyrus wrote Thursday evening, under the banner "MileyCyrus Gypsy Heart Tour."
Her next post went beyond jewelry to politics, apparently referring to Hayne's well-known patronage of Santorum:
. . . every time you give them money you help finance a campaign against gay equality. #SHADYASHELL
Then she took aim at Santorum specifically, who accepted political contributions from Hayne and, years ago, was scorned for remarks that his critics took to mean likened homosexuality to bestiality:
"IF WE ALLOW GAY MARRIAGE NEXT THING U KNOW PEOPLE WILL BE MARRYING GOLD FISH" - Rick Santorum UO contributed $13,000 to this mans campaign
A phone message for Lillian Matulic, vice president of publicity at Hollywood Records, Cyrus' label in California, was not immediately returned Friday.
A phone call to Virginia Davis, a press contact for Santorum, was not immediately returned.
Koerner's Twitter account showed much activity Thursday and Friday. At one point on Thursday, she apologized: So sorry if I'm not able to respond to your tweets right away, I will def get to them. XO!
Then she posted a promotion:
As a thank YOU for all the love and support today, i would like to extend a 20% off coupon to everyone today. Just use the code "THANKYOU"!
Earlier in the day, she had asked her Twitter followers if anyone knew of a good intellectual-property attorney.
On Friday, she again apologized: If I don't get back to you right away, please forgive me. xo
Apparently also struggling to keep up with demand for the products shown on her website, www.imakeshinythings.com, she tweeted Friday: If you don't see something in the shop, it will be there shortly. Renewing everything now.