Abercombie and their PR Situation

18 08 2011

A clothing brand pays a celebrity NOT to wear their clothes.  It made the New York Times.  Surely that’s PR genius.

Abercrombie & Fitch Chief Executive Mike Jeffries set the story ablaze during a conference call with financial analysts when he asked “is no one going to ask about The Situation?”.  Thus prompted to pose the question, the analysts were told “last Friday … someone came up and said, ‘Mike, I have terrible, terrible news.  Last night on ‘Jersey Shore’ The Situation had A&F product on.”

For the uninitiated ‘The Situation’ is a “star” (in a Warhol sense) of faux reality US TV ratings phenomenon ‘Jersey Shore’.

A&F decided to pay the cast not to wear their product, Jeffries said.  We can deduce that the cast are not A&F’s target demographic.  “We’re having a lot of fun with it” Jeffries added.  He may as well have just said “it’s a stunt”.  What on the face of it is generating a lot of media mileage maybe be bad for the brand.

In the first instance generally most customers don’t like having the wool pulled.  Secondly what A&F has actually done is created a powerful association between their brand and ‘Jersey Shore’.  The 9% drop in the company’s share price may be as much to do with the CEO saying in the same briefing “into 2012, it is clear that we are entering a period of greater uncertainty”.  It could equally that what seemed to be a clever PR ploy was actually his Ratner moment.



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