In 2006, Abercrombie + Fitch CEO, Michael Jeffries made the following comment:
"Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."
Recently, this comment has exploded on the internet and everyone from celebrities, moms, interest groups and students are calling for a ban of the brand due to the fact that they don't produce garments for women over a size 10. (For dudes, THIS is what a size 10 woman looks like).
People may assume that Jeffries and his PR team are huddled away at some Social Media Compound chugging Red Bull and Starbucks trying to figure out how to fix this mess. They'd probably be wrong. Why?
This is absolutely, 100% the best PR and Marketing that Abercrombie + Fitch could get.
Here's the thing.
Almost every brand is exclusive in their own right. They have to be in order to gain competitive advantage. What's different about this situation is that Jeffries is proclaiming it. Do you think Porsche is ever going to lead in with a campaign that says "we're only for the rich"? Will Chubbies start a campaign called "douchebags of the world unite?" (No seriously, WTF is this?)
This press is a GOLD MINE for Abercrombie + Fitch because it does what every brand wishes it could easily do: Create High-Level Brand ROI. Brand ROI is loosely defined as how a consumer perceives a brand before, during or after a purchase; or in laymen's terms how a brand makes a person feel after they purchased.
Let's Break it Down
When you buy and drink a coffee from Starbucks, do you feel like those happy smiling sippers who are reading Moby Dick in their 3rd floor Penthouse with color categorized books in the background? Probably not.
When you buy a jacket at GAP do you boldly strut your stuff around and actively tell people that you got it at GAP? Maybe, but then you'd be sorta weird.
Say you're a 13 - 18 year old (which is also the most hard fought over age demographic in the US for Marketers) who just found out that there's a brand saying that only cool, popular and good looking kids can wear their brand. Are you mature enough to stand up and say: "That's not right and I'm going to protest it because of my morals and values."? Probably not.
This is positive for the brand on so many levels because A+F has all but tapped into the largest categorical demographic of teenagers.
- The popular (and insecure) kids will wear the brand to solidify their status.
- The not so popular kids will wear the brand to exemplify the popular kids.
- The kids who can't fit in the clothes will take necessary measures to eventually fit in them.
Do not confuse any of this by saying I support the brand and/or Jeffries. I'm simply pointing out that the more outcry and protesting there is could (and probably will) lead to an overall sales increase. Typically, the popular kids are also the rich kids which means they have the most spending power. And as long as the below exists, there will always be brands like Abercrombie + Fitch.
Thoughts or comments? Leave em in the comment section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you know you kind of want to play this song now right?