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T-Shirt Becomes Internet Sensation Thanks To Rutgers–Camden Law Student
CAMDEN — If Brian Govern ever decides practicing law isn’t the right career, he might have a promising future in marketing. The Rutgers–Camden law student is finding out that creating the tiniest ripple on the internet can cause giant waves of pop-culture phenomena.
Govern was thrust into a world of virtual celebrity when he posted a seemingly harmless tongue-in-cheek comment about an unfashionable T-shirt on Amazon.com in November 2008. Within six months, the black shirt depicting three wolves howling at the moon was the web’s hottest item.
“I was searching for law books on Amazon.com and they suggested that I might like this T-shirt,” Govern says. “I’d seen some farcical reviews of products before, so I thought I would write one for the shirt.”
In the review, which was the first posted about the product, Govern quips, “Once I tried it on, that's when the magic happened,” and that he walked “with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women.”
More than 1,700 customers have since added their own ironic comments about the “three wolf moon” shirt as it quickly became one of Amazon.com’s hottest selling items.
The Mountain, a New Hampshire-based company that manufactures the shirt, now sells about 100 three wolf moon shirts an hour.
“I didn’t think anything of it until I got a call one night from Amazon.com’s public relations department saying the New York Times wanted to interview me,” says Govern, a Glassboro resident. “I did a Google search and this shirt and my review were everywhere. Collegehumor.com picked up on it and from there it exploded.”
The shirt even made an appearance on the NBC comedy The Office when nerdy sidekick Dwight Schrute, played by actor Rainn Wilson, wore it during an episode entitled “Niagara.” The shirt’s overnight internet popularity has also appeared in print media, TV news reports and on blogs.
Even the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has turned to Govern for his expertise. Later this month, Govern will participate in a panel discussion at MIT to discuss internet marketing strategies.
“I wish I knew why it got so big,” Govern says. “These guys have sold millions of T-shirts for zero investment. Companies pay millions of dollars to consultants to come up with ways to sell products. Other people want to try and emulate what happened.”
Govern attributes part of the success to the sarcastic humor and says other reviewers simply followed his lead. However, the real “magic” behind the shirt might be the nature of the remarks on Amazon.com.
“Someone from Business Week said it became so popular because sex sells,” Govern says. “My review says the T-shirt will get you women. It makes sense. There are other reviews posted that I think are even funnier than mine. ”
Govern will graduate from the School of Law at the Camden Campus of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in May. He received his undergraduate degree in engineering from Kettering University in Flint, Mich.
Govern’s post-commencement plans include a clerkship with Camden County Superior Court Judge Deborah Silverman Katz. He says he is interested in practicing intellectual property law, but is also considering other fields.
Media Contact: Ed Moorhouse