Posted by Anthony Zumpano on August 17, 2011 01:02 PM
Call it a bribe. Call it a “reverse” endorsement deal. Call it an embarrassing brand Situation.
You’d think that Abercrombie & Fitch Co., a retailer notorious for bombarding young mall shoppers (and their parents) with multiple versions of its brand, would be flattered that the cast of MTV's The Jersey Shore, one of the few things more popular among A&F’s audience than A&F itself, embrace the brand’s clothing.
But it seems even a brand with questionable hiring practices, one of the more eccentric CEOs you’ll ever meet, and a reputation for sexually explicit and racist clothing has its limits. In a press release entitled “Abercrombie & Fitch Proposes a Win-Win Situation,” A&F claims that it is “deeply concerned that Mr. [Mike ‘The Situation’] Sorrentino's association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image.” So, in attempt to cease this damaging association, A&F is offering “substantial payment” to Sorrentino, as well as his hard-partying castmates, to ditch their Fitch.
Despite a brand’s best efforts to manage its image, it can be surprised—and dismayed—to learn who is actually buying its products. Dr. Martens shoes were worn by fans of both punk rock and Nazis, and the biggest Ed Hardy booster is apparently a divorced father of eight. A pair of A&F jeans on The Situation doesn’t seem to go against the brand-grain as much as, say, Betty White squeezing into a Gilly Hicks thong, but perhaps the Jersey Shore cast, who tend to exude more hairspray fumes than class, fall too far outside the clean-cut Stepford stereotype—Salon called it the “casually flawless college kid”—for comfort.
“We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes,” the A&F release continues, “but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans.”
Distressing? Based on the record-setting ratings logged by the show’s season premiere a couple of weeks ago, it looks like The Jersey Shore has become the most aspirational brand for young people in years. Now that’s distressing.