Is Abercrombie & Fitch’s Bribe Just A Publicity Stunt?

Today, Abercrombie & Fitch offered to pay “Situation” from the popular reality series Jersey Shore, NOT to wear its brand (to get the back story on this, you can read one of hundreds of stories and posts here).

A&F claims that the association with the star of the reality show is “contrary to the aspirational nature of their brand”.  This is particularly ironic as A&F is not exactly a brand as innocent as Disney.  In 2002, A&F had to pull a line of thongs from its shelves that aimed at girls age 10 and under. Then a year later in 2003, they had to pull its Christmas catalog after receiving boycott threats from a parents’ group because the catalog featured nude models.

Regardless, as of today, A&F does not believe being associated with Jersey Shore is where they want their brand to be.

We give kudos to A&F for trying to control its brand but let’s face it, as far as brands go, we know that no matter how hard a corporate marketing team carefully crafts and executes their brand strategy, the brand will ultimately be determined by what consumers believe the brand is.

For many brands, getting your brand into pop culture is the holy grail.  It can be great for sales, name recognition and real estate on the shelves. But there is definitely brand risk to consider.

Let’s take a quick look at pop music and in particular, rap.

Back in 2006, there was a public fight between rapper Jay-Z and Cristal champagne after Jay-Z featured the champagne brand in a song and in his clubs – (click here for a story about that).  While Cristal was upset that their premium brand would be tarnished by its association with rap, it quickly became part of the vernacular of an untapped market.  So, did Cristal suffer because of Jay-Z unpaid and unauthorized endorsement?

And back to A&F, what is worse for them?  Being tied to ‘Situation’ and one of the most popular shows on TV or public outrage for marketing thongs to 10 year olds?  Personally, I think that this is all a publicity stunt to get the A&F name in the news.  In Chicago tonight, the story was featured on the 10pm news.


Let us know your thoughts about the relationship between brands and pop culture.


Meijer stereotypes in their advertising

Recently, I heard a Meijer radio ad.  The ad was mostly forgettable as most radio ads are but what made me remember this ad is in this day and age where unemployment continues to rise and domestic roles continue to evolve, that Meijer fell into the sterotypical role of assuming that the care of the children are the responsibilty of the moms. 

The radio ad was for back to school shopping.  At the end of the commerical, Meijer makes it clear that shopping for back to school supplies are the mom’s job.

According to the Washington Post in a 2007 report, it was estimated that about 159,000 -or 2.7%  of the US stay at home population are dads.  This statistic tripled from 10 years earlier.  While 2.7% is really not a lot, it is big enough to take into consideration when creating an ad. 

Being a male who has taken on much of the role of the traditional mom, I personally take offense to advertisers and brands that approve such ads that sterotype men and women into these traditional roles.  Men are taking a larger role in the family business and not just as stay at home dads.  Everything from grocery shopping to running domestic errands is now a shared service in today’s domestic operations. 

What is surprising is that Meijer has had to dance over this topic before.  Here are comments from a  2009 ad that was offensive to women.  You would think that once you are called out on your insensitivity, you would take note and try to be appealing to everyone. 

While it is true that Meijer’s over indexes toward females (113% female compared to 85% male) according to a Quantcast report dated 12/2/2010 – 5/30/2011, it doesn’t give the company a free pass to buy into the stereotype that men don’t shop for school supplies (or care for kids, or cook, or clean, or support their wives, etc). 

So, how what does that mean for their brand? 

You tell me.