Most Americans pretty much know the basics of the Headless Horseman fable. At the very least, the American public knows the most iconic thing about the Headless Horseman fable: He's headless. And in the most recent edition of "Badly Timed Hollywood Publicity Campaigns," that's put Sleepy Hollow and Fox's marketing team in a pretty awkward place. You know, considering all those journalists who keep being beheaded.
Gearing up for the fall TV season, it makes sense that most shows are really starting to crank their marketing back up again. For Sleepy Hollow that meant, according to The Wrap, a day that "urged fans of the show to share eCards in honor of National Headless Day." That didn't go too well with the timing of American journalist Steven Sotloff's beheading by ISIS this week. The apology from their publicity firm, Thinkjam, went thusly:
We apologize for the unfortunate timing of our Sleepy Hollow Headless Day announcement. 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.
Of course, there wasn't really a way for Fox to know how horrifically this campaign would be timed with breaking news. Buffy The Vampire Slayer had to pull an episode from air in the 1990s because it dealt with a potential school shooter and Columbine just happened to happen right before the episode aired. The movie Charade had to cut out all uses of the word "assassination" because the gap between filming and release happened to include the assasination of JFK. More recently, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles poster for Australia had the unfortunate distinction of bearing the date "9/11" with an image of the characters plummeting from a skyscraper. Pop culture happens, and major breaking tragedies happen. Sometimes those two things overlap rather uncomfortably. This time around I think it's safe to say that Thinkjam meant no harm from their unfortunate timing.