Bin Laden death fuels pop-culture phenomenon

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- T-shirts trumpeting the death of Osama Bin Laden started popping up within a day of the announcement about the Navy SEALs successful mission, and at least one local company is reaping the benefits.

Since its origin as an undergarment, the t-shirt has become a means of expression. The shirts say something about the wearer, whether it's what school they went to, what music they listen to or their hobbies.

T-shirts can also express what's going on culturally. Zazzle.com turns those pop culture icons into t-shirts.

The Redwood City-based company specializes in making t-shirts based on user-submitted designs. The key for this company is its ability to react to pop culture references and get customized shirts into mailboxes within 24 hours.

The shirts advertised on the company’s website feature everything from Charlie Sheen’s public meltdown to fund-raising efforts for Japanese tsunami victims.

Director of Marketing Mike Karns said the company knew bin Laden’s death would mean big business.

"I think that Sunday evening when we watched the announcement from President Obama of the news, we knew Monday morning was going to be busy for us," said Karns.

Zazzle's shirts, buttons, and hats are all designed by users. Then consumers pick which designs they want to buy.

Since the content is created and driven by consumers -- it's the ultimate reflection of what's on the public's mind.

"In some sense we're a barometer for what's going on out there in the world," said Karns. "A social barometer if you will."

The company said the Osama shirts are really without precedent. The designs break down into three main categories: shirts featuring patriotic themes, shirts with the idea of mission accomplished and shirts supporting SEAL Team Six, the team that actually went in and got Osama bin Laden.