Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Branding Gone Bad - Abercrombie Offers to Payoff Jersey Shore Star

Just how far will a company go to preserve its brand integrity? Just ask upscale clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (also affectionately referred to as A&F). Obviously famous people that associate themselves with a specific brand can have an impact on that brand's image and ultimately sales. Still, I have never heard of a clothing company offering to pay someone "not" to wear its brand as is the case with A&F executives offering to pay Jersey Shore star Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino.

In a public statement released yesterday, A&F expressed a deep concern over the association with the Jersey Shore star and the A&F brand. They offered up what is described as a substantial payment to the star to wear an alternative brand. Wow! I don't know what to say. Good for them or what were they thinking? Here are my thoughts on the impact of this action by A&F below:

  • First and foremost they have drawn attention to the situation (no pun intended).  I myself am an A&F customer for casual attire and had no idea that someone from Jersey Shore was wearing the brand because I do not watch the show, nor do I care what anyone from the show does let alone wears.
  • A&F may have alienated a large group of their target audience (largely teens and young adults who watch the show on MTV). Whether this is their target demo or not this could likely hurt sales at least in the short-term as show loyalists react to the news. 
  • My guess here is that some other brand like American Eagle will catch wind of this and offer to pay the Jersey shore star or whole cast to wear its line of clothing, realizing the potential lift in sales.
So I am curious to see how this unravels. Of course "The Situation" is now even more famous than he was before, which sortof backfired for A&F I think. Don't they realize that even bad publicity is good for brands - or was this public statement some sort of attempt at that on their part? Makes me wonder. Perhaps this was even a planned event concocted by some fancy New York PR agency. What are your thoughts? 

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