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August 18, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

In a PR gambit that paid off in spades, Abercrombie & Fitch on Wednesday offered Jersey Shore‘s The Situation a “substantial payment” not to wear its clothing. On Jim Romanesko’s blog on the Poynter Institute’s website, the journalism blogger headlined the question, “Is there a news outlet that didn’t report Abercrombie & Fitch’s The Situation stunt?” Likewise, New York magazine’s fashion blogger Amy Odell remarked, “Every blog from here to Mars won’t be able to resist running that press release.” Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi told the AP, “It’s free marketing. Because the approach is so ridiculous, everybody’s talking about it.” But the Wall Street Journal, while calling the release a “brilliant move,” observed that investors were not impressed. Shares of ANF fell more than 8 percent, closing at $64.87, and making it the second-worst performer in the Standard & Poor’s 500. (The Journal pointed out that the company also had just reported a disappointing quarter.) One market analyst, Omar Saad of ISI, didn’t know what to make of Abercrombie’s move. On the one hand, he wrote, “we applaud the decision to dissociate A&F brands from the Jersey Shore characters.” Saad worried especially that the hit American show could harm the brand as it expands overseas, especially “if Europeans begin to associate A&F with boorish American behavior.” On the other hand, he wrote, that the characters on the show “may actually represent the brand’s core demographic, at least domestically. Could some of these consumers be turned off by A&F’s snobby attitude?” (Judging by the thousands, nay millions, of postings on Facebook and Twitter, they were.) The New York Times quoted New York PR consultant Drew Kerr as saying that the tactic is not new. “It’s offering something publicly that you know is never going to happen, but you do it because it’s just made for the press,” he said.