Intention is Everything

March 29, 2011 | blog | By Mike Sullivan

Yielding to public outrage, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. has pulled its “Ashley” bikini linewith heavily padded “push-up” tops aimed at 7- to 12-year old girls. So now this from the people who brought us thong underwear in children’s sizes, and catalogues featuring soft porn images of teenagers having sex. The company’s marketing strategy is as intentional as it is revolting.

A&F’s well-worn game plan is to push the boundaries far beyond the end zone of decency. Then, they execute a pre-calculated retreat under anticipated fire, and enjoy a waterfall of media publicity fueled by those concerned with the exploitation of children. A&F is betting that their message and the public fallout will find a target-rich audience in the hallways of America’s schools. They’re hunting the most vulnerable of kids who are wrestling with pubescent emotion and youthful struggles in search of personal identity. The company’s predatory approach reminds me of another very old industry. At least the purveyors of those goods have the decency to call it what it is when they’re walking the streets.

Most people don’t know that A&F was founded in 1892, making it one of the country’s oldest brands. It was once a respected clothier with loyal celebrity customers likeTeddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemmingway. Papa would not approve of his brand today.

bad advertisingbad brandsbad marketingmarketing

Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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