GO BARVES! It's not just a misspelling, it's an Internet parody

5:24 PM, May 8, 2012   |    comments
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A "Barves" shirt emerges from a printer at an Inman Park t-shirt printing company.

ATLANTA -- It's not just a T-shirt bearing the colors and script and tomahawk logo of the Atlanta Braves.  The shirt, produced by a husband and wife Atlanta-based marketing company, is a very subtle spoof that starts with two transposed letters.

"The Atlanta Barves," said Everett Steele, one of the shirt's creators.  Then he spelled it out:  "B-A-R-V-E-S."  

 

"It's just an obnoxious misspelling. It kind of started on Twitter with people just writing 'go barves.'  I just thought it was really funny," said Allison Steele. "Just sort of ridiculous."

Allison and Everett Steele run Baby Robot Industries.  They sell shirts on atlantabarves.com, and say they donate the proceeds to the Atlanta Braves Foundation.  The shirt, they say, parlays a simple misspelling into an homage to their favorite baseball team, and a parody of the Internet.

"I think this is why it's funny to me. I hate the internet spelling, the Twitter CU later, LOL speak," said Everett Steele.  "I can't stand it. So when this started taking off, I think that's why it was so funny-- because it was a very cognizant owning of the stupidity of the Internet, the collective stupidity."

The question is whether the Atlanta Braves, who market a popular and valuable brand, will get the joke.

"I don't think the braves will laugh at all," said attorney John Harris of Morris, Manning & Martin LLP.  Harris says courts have given lots of leeway to parodies of brands.  But using a brand to parody the Internet may be too subtle.

"If they're making fun and nobody gets the joke, then how fun can it be?  It's a bad joke," Harris laughed.  "(But) bad jokes are free speech too."

"We'll stop if (the Braves) want us to stop," said Allison Steele.

 

The Steeles say they have sold about a hundred Atlanta Barves shirts since the start of baseball season -- and haven't heard a word from the Atlanta Braves-- at least so far.

A spokeswoman for the Braves said the team would withhold comment until it researched the matter. 

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