Special -guest blog entry by Josi Brown
U.S. based Apparel Company, Abercrombie and Fitch is no stranger to controversy. In fact, management seems intentionally create moments to stir social media firestorms. These controversies stem from the people who wear their products - to the store employees- to the actual products. It seems that the company has embraced the position that no publicity is bad publicity.
Back in August the retailer released a statement asking MTV’s Jersey Shore cast mate, Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino to stop wearing their clothes after he sported their lime green sweatpants in an episode the night before. They even stated that they would pay him a substantial amount of money to stop wearing the brand. Following the statement, Abercrombie and Fitch mentioned that ‘The Situation’ does not represent the ideals and values of the company and that they do not want to be associated with the character.
The MTV show follows a bunch of twenty-something Italian Americans as they party and engage in various made for TV moments, such as girl fights and incessant drinking. Search Jersey Shore on Google and you will get videos with the cast mates going to jail rather than information about the seaside town. Abercrombie and Fitch, who uses genetically gifted young men and women in their advertisements, is no first timer at creating controversy. By firing out at a show, which reaches the same demographic, Abercrombie and Fitch assured itself that the right people would be targeted. Its demographic, late teens to early twenty-somethings, is a tech savvy bunch. They have instant information at their fingertips and tend to be very brand loyal. Abercrombie has, by constantly creating buzz, at no cost, ensured that that are always talked about among their consumers.
I believe that blacklisting ‘The Situation’ was a brilliant move. Overnight publications nation-wide, from Perez Hilton to Forbes and the U.K. Telegraph, picked up the story and ran articles potent with controversy. Social media sites were immediately abuzz with the Jersey Shore cast tweeting about the current ‘situation.’ With Mike himself tweeting "Looks like Abercrombie got themself into a Situation!" The story reached thousands of the retailer’s target market, who are also conveniently fans of the MTV reality show.
Abercrombie and Fitch has a history of pursuing ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ campaign strategies. Back in March, CNN ran an article about the triangle push up (swim suit top) Abercrombie and Fitch was marketing to young girls. Socially conscious groups immediately jumped on this wondering why a company would sell this product for little girls who have nothing to ‘push up’ yet; social media again was talking about the retailer. Prior to that, Abercrombie and Fitch had another controversy. They were in the news for allegedly only hiring ‘attractive’ looking sales associates from their target market. We'll see what controversy A&F conjures up next.