French Connection (FCUK)
French Connection is a company founded in the United Kingdom in 1969 which sells clothing and accessories in many parts of the world.
In April 1997, French Connection began branding their clothes "fcuk" (usually written in lowercase). Large stores are in Leeds and London. Though they insisted it was an acronym for French Connection United Kingdom, its similarity to the word "fuck" caused controversy. French Connection fully exploited this and produced an extremely popular range of t-shirts with messages such as "fcuk this", "hot as fcuk", "mile high fcuk", "lucky fcuk", "Fun Comes Usually Kneeling", "fcuk on the beach", etc. There were also a number of regionally specific messages, such as "fcuk in hull" (bearing similarity to "fucking hell") and "no fcukin worries" (in Australia) and "fcuk off". "Chugging the fcuk" and "Munching on fcuk" were popular shirt titles but were later found as innapropriate. Apparently they first discovered the acronym when a fax was sent from their Hong Kong store FCHK to FCUK. In 2001, during the introduction of French Connection in San Francisco, big banners hung on the front of the newly opened store saying "San Francisco's first fcuk."
French Connection has distributing stores worldwide. It predominantly sells its clothing through its own stores, though many other shops stock its ranges. In the United States, the fcuk brand has been controversial; the American Family Association, for example, has urged a boycott of fcuk products.
French Connection launched a trademark infringement case challenging "First Consultant UK," a computer company, over its use of the fcuk acronym, but the judge in the case refused to grant an injunction, describing French Connection's use of it as "a tasteless and obnoxious campaign."
The company also threatened legal action against the right-wing political youth organisation Conservative Future, which had briefly adopted the spoof abbrevation "cfuk" (short for "Conservative Future UK").
Another judge reportedly expelled a potential juror from his courtroom for wearing one of the fcuk range of T-shirts, saying that the "mis-spelt Anglo Saxon word" was a distraction and did not dignify the court proceedings.
Following years of complaints, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority banned a number of advertisements and ordered the company to submit all posters for approval before running them.
In the United States, mayor of Boston, Massachusetts Thomas Menino told French Connection to remove their ads from billboards throughout the city, according to the Boston Metro.
In February 2006 French Connection launched the Fashion vs Style campaign that replaced the previous fcuk advertising. The first advertisement in the campaign was directed by Duncan Jones, son of David Bowie, and featured girls in the roles of Fashion and Style fighting. It was reported in the national press that this advert received between 121 and 127 complaints in the first week of being broadcast and may become as controversial as the previous fcuk campaign.
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