Telling consumers where to get off
Much has been made of the dilemma facing Blackberry and RIM (Riot In Motion? Sorry – Ed.) which saw the mobile phone brand effectively hijacked by a group of consumers who probably didn’t feature very highly on Blackberry’s target demographic. BlackBerry for its part has maintained a dignified silence, no doubt made all the more frustrating by the countless number of media pundits who will insist on analysing the role and responsibility of the brand in the recent London incidents.
Coming out as a brand and asking people not to buy your product, even in jest, is a risky strategy. It might have looked like clever reverse psychology on paper, but when Nissan launched the Almera in 1995, it was advertised as “the car ‘they’ don’t want you to drive...” so we didn’t.
When your face doesn’t fit
But if a brand can’t ask undesirable consumers to stay away, it can ask certain high profile individuals not to endorse it, as has been the case with Abercrombie and Fitch.
The all-American clothing company has, quite publicly, requested that members of MTV’s Jersey Shore refrain from wearing its clothes. Apparently the owners don’t feel that the hedonistic lifestyles of the Jersey Shore team, specifically Mike ‘the situation’ Sorrentino, best reflect the “east coast traditions and Ivy League heritage” of the brand. Reports suggest that Mr Sorrentino (I can’t call him ‘the situation’, sorry) has even been offered payment to not wear the brand.
This might seem a bit disingenuous coming from a brand famous for its stores full of good looking muscular guys and stunningly attractive young women, but it appears that Abercrombie is very choosy about who is seen its clothing. I wonder if it will start vetting its Facebook fan page, which currently has more than five million fans, and make sure that they all come up to scratch in terms of looks and lifestyle choices?
UPDATE: MTV have written A&F's behaviour off as a publicity stunt, calling the spat a "clever PR stunt". Never one to miss an opportunity, Sorrentino commented that Abercrombie & Fitch had got itself into a 'situation'. Nice.