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This Abercrombie ‘Situation’

This is Abercrombie & Fitch ‘Situation’is absolutely absurd and it’s a lot bigger than the suits at Abercrombie even realize just yet. What in the world could have lead Abercrombie and Fitch Co. to tell the most popular stars of the most popular television show among their most popular age demographic that they want them to STOP WEARING THEIR PRODUCT IN PUBLIC? Are they out of their minds?

JERSEY SHORE CAST FROM NYMAG

JERSEY SHORE CAST FROM NYMAG

This is the ideal lesson for todays Marketing and PR professionals. One day, in a PR class this decision will be discussed and debated. Congratulations, guidos and guidettes, you just got added to another significant pop culture folk tale.

This is a lesson for today’s marketers, as there are 3 things to learn from this one bad decision.

  1. Know your Customer

MTV’s the Jersey Shore is the most popular show among 17-24 year olds by a mile. They love watching these 8 Jerseyites as they party and hook up. They’ve created a new wing to today’s culture. The stars of the show are infamous, yet terribly intriguing. Regardless of how many ‘regular’ people feel about the show, the 17-24 crowd can’t get enough of them. So Abercrombie’s mistake was allowing for those removed from this demographic, those not understanding of this demographic, to take a significant stance in the face of this generation. The customers of A&F would have never agreed to asking Sitch to stop wearing the clothes, they likely don’t care if he does or does not, but now the suits  have insulted their friend.

  1. Know Your Goal in your PR decisions

What in the world could have been the goal or benefit to asking these popular star TO NOT wear the brand? How does that decision translate to bigger and better sales? Would publicly asking Derek Jeter to NOT wear your brand of batting gloves really lead to a better bottom line?

Is there a hope that enough dejected Abercrombie clients who ‘jumped’ ship when Jersey Shore came out would suddenly come back? Are there enough non-partying types that will jump into action and support Abercrombie for this decision? Probably not, Abercrombie likely has all the clients it can get and all the clients they deserve.

Did Abercrombie expect this to go over as a ‘all publicity is good publicity’ style decision? Because I would doubt they feel good about their 9% stock drop over a 24 hour period.

  1. Beware Angering Social Media Giants

Abercrombie’s clients are on twitter and facebook. It’s where they LIVE. Do you know who has a very large presence on these two networks? Jersey Shore Stars and Jersey Shore faithful do, and it’s a rule in Jersey that you always take care of family.  Do you know who has a MUCH smaller influence socially (comparatively)? A&F.

Once the decision came out the stars and fans went on defense to their millions of followers and the 9% drop is the start of something that could be significant.

Allowing traditional PR thinking to persuade decisions is one thing, but this went beyond misreading the usefulness of a promotion. This was anti-promotion. This wasn’t smart.

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