Studio sorry for 'National Beheading Day' campaign

Last updated 15:46 03/09/2014

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The US studio 20th Century Fox has been forced to pull a promotional media campaign for its horror TV series Sleepy Hollow.

The campaign, which focused on the show's central mythological figure, the "headless horseman", was released to media the same day video was released of a journalist being beheaded in Iraq by extremist militants.

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The campaign included a series of "e-card" postcards featuring phrases such as "you'd forget your head if it wasn't attached" and "does this axe make my head look small?"

It also made reference to a "National Beheading Day".

The campaign provoked widespread condemnation on social media for its astonishingly poor timing and was immediately withdrawn.

It was created for Fox's home entertainment division by the international marketing group ThinkJam.

Fox has since issued a statement apologising for the campaign: "We regret the unfortunate timing of our announcement. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of all involved."

ThinkJam has also issued an unreserved apology over the mistake.

"The tragic news of [journalist] Steven Sotloff's death hit the web as the email was being sent," the statement said.

"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."

The campaign was intended to promote the launch of the TV series on digital platforms, DVD and Blu-ray disc on September 16.

Sleepy Hollow is a contemporary drama set in the universe of Washington Irving's iconic 1820 short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

In the short story's narrative, the "headless horseman" was an artilleryman killed in the 18th century and buried in the cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, who later returns as a ghost.

In the re-booted narrative of the television series, the "headless horseman" is "Death", one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, a character from biblical lore.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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