A+F Misfires Harm Brand

Abercrombie and Fitch is no stranger to criticism. Just this year, it made controversial headlines because of the “Look Policy” for employees, discrimination in the workplace , and, of course, targeting only thin customers.

Then, in May, this YouTube video of cultural activist Greg Kraber bashing the brand went viral with more than seven million views. The video specifically discusses A+F preferring not to donate damaged clothing to the poor, calling the organization a “terrible company.”

On a side note, according to CNN Money, A+F’s stock was down 18 percent in September suggesting that these issues are pushing more and more customers away.

It’s safe to say that the brand is in serious need of positive PR, so this is what they decided to do:

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The video, posted by the A+F’s YouTube channel, is meant to be a parody of a music video that the Norwegian comedy duo, Ylvis, produced that received more than 67 million views.

A+F’s parody immediately received attention from all big media outlets, but just about all mocked the brand.

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Clearly A+F saw the original viral video as a hit, and tried to get in on the trend in order to, as Huffington Post put it, “convince the world it’s still cool.” (l) But the question is, are we laughing with them or at them?

While it may be a good PR move to piggyback on something so trendy amongst their target audience, it seems that reaction to the video isn’t exactly what they were looking for. Will this video help rebrand the company as trendy and cool or is it just adding to their laundry list of already existing issues?

The problem is that A+F is off target in regard to the right issues. As in the articles above, it isn’t a question of if the brand is trendy, but it is more the moral issues that are hurting the company. Instead of making a silly video in an attempt to seem synonymous with “cool,” its makes better PR sense to launch a campaign addressing its recent controversies, such as body image or anti-discrimination.

So what do you think? Is this a sad attempt to rebrand itself or do you think this will help its image? What are your suggestions for a different PR strategy?

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1 Response to A+F Misfires Harm Brand

  1. Maja Cakarun says:

    Nice piece Katlyn! I really enjoyed reading it, as well as the YouTube videos. My first impression was — what is their exact message? After reading comments below, my opinion was shared by almost everyone. I think they missed the opportunity to improve a damaged image. Activist Greg Kraber has done much better job in questioning their reputation and highlighting issues that have already existed for a while among customers — pricey clothes, discrimination at work with their Look Policy and message that only young and beautiful people are their target audience. I believe that a much better PR job would be to answer that video promptly.

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