Did Axe Steal ‘Shower Thoughts’ From Reddit?

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One of the most popular subreddits on the hobo in a three-piece suit that is Reddit.com is called r/showerthoughts. It is a repository for “shower thoughts,” those profoundly stupid, or stupidly profound, realizations that strike you when you least expect it, like in the shower. If you need a better analogy and are of a certain age, think Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts.

Here’s the shower thought currently sitting on the section’s front page right now: “In reality, having a big heart is a medical condition that can kill you.” Nearly six million Redditors subscribe for these pearls of wisdom.

Shower Thoughts” is also the Axe deodorant brand’s newest campaign. And Axe decided that it would be funny if former NBA player Muggsy Bogues said, “When you’re criticized for being short, they’re really just saying the worst thing about you is that there isn’t more of you.” (Bogues is famously short, you see.)

The problem, the Washington Post reports, is that the phrase also appeared on the subreddit last August, and appears to have been taken by Axe without credit. Now, Reddit — as much as a millions-strong user base can be generalized — is mad about that. A thread on the subject is up to nearly 2,500 comments.

As the Post points out, people online pass around shower thoughts unattributed all the time (there’s even a thread devoted to hunting them down). There’s a decent possibility that whoever wrote the ad thought it was just a general truism. Or an “African proverb.” What seems to have rubbed Redditors the wrong way this time is that their shower thought was used for … profit.

Which, well, c’mon, you guys. Yes, major corporations, and the ad firms that they hire, should probably get in the habit of attributing work they’ve lifted from the great sea of internet memes. That’d be nice for lots of people — such as, for example, Kayla Newman, the 16-year-old who came up with “on fleek.” The problem is that, in the grand scheme of things, “Reddit” is more “profitable company making money off of poorly sourced content with no creator compensation” than “creative community going uncompensated.” Maybe everyone should be better about sourcing.