FOX’s Sleepy Hollow has as its central villain the infamous Headless Horseman, so to gear up for its second season, the PR department sent out a slew of e-cards featuring – HO!HO! – lots and lots of headless jokes. One, featuring the Headless Horseman holding an axe, included the text “Does this axe make my head look small?” Another showed a drawing of Ichabod (Tom Mison) holding a skull, accompanied with the text “I knew you’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached.” Then, the meat of the message: “Heads will roll as sleepyheads celebrate Headless Day today, September 2. On this National Beheading Day, viewers everywhere can share in the fun as fans prepare for the release of Sleepy Hollow: Season One on Digital HD now and arriving on Blu-ray and DVD September 16.
Rather unfortunate timing, though. Just as the emails were being sent to media outlets, news broke of the death of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, whom ISIS terrorists say they beheaded.
“We apologize for the unfortunate timing of our Sleepy Hollow Headless Day announcement,” read an email from ThinkJam, which was behind the campaign. “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.”
Fox Home Entertainment also issued an apology: “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.”
Even though they could not have anticipated Sotloff’s death, I’m sure heads are LITERALLY rolling in the Sleepy Hollow PR department right now. As one Jezebel commenter noted: “If you work in PR, you set up news alerts on your phone. Part of your job is to look for potential problems. It’s not a matter of dicking around. It’s about being aware of the world around you. You certainly can’t catch everything, but the ISIS beheading was covered by all major news outlets, including international ones. BBC, NPR, ABC, CNN alerts all would have pinged it.”