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What's 'The Situation' on Abercromie & Fitch's PR Move?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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A week ago, I found myself in quite the personal conundrum — cheering for Abercromie & Fitch.

This is the company whose sole objective is make any man deaf, soil his nostrils with foul-smelling scents of pre-pubescence, and create an overwhelming sense of inferiority with borderline teen porn pictures inside its stores. That company made me a fan when it decided to throttle the derelict cast of rejects on the "Jersey Shore."

Evidently, I'm not the only converted cheerleader, as the move created instant ballyhoo, hype, and hoopla for the company in terms of positive PR, as noted by the AP via the Wichita Eagle.

According to the story, the preppy teen retailer said last week that it would pay a "substantial payment" to Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino or any cast member who stops wearing its clothing on the popular MTV reality show because the series is "contrary to the aspirational nature of the brand." Mind you, this is a company that believes Photoshopping Stepford boys to the point of mannequin status is crucial to increasing their bottom line. However, the move was a stroke of genius...and brilliantly timed so close to the Back to School rush.

"It gets their name further out into the marketplace with one of the hottest brands on TV right now at the peak of the back-to-school season," said Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi. "It's free marketing. Because the approach is so ridiculous, everybody's talking about it."

In the understatement of week, MTV called the move by Abercrombie a "clever PR stunt." Yeah, and this just in: Simon Cowell really needs to button up that shirt of his.
Of course it was clever and it had everything to do with PR. People detest going inside those stores (um, some sources say). And in this economy, those same people would rather buy knock-offs...er, closely-related apparel at lower prices. So, A&F did what any company would do so close to a shopping bonanza — they found a way to stay relevant. Who knew the downfall of American youth self-esteem would be hold the skeleton key for the company that embraces the...well, um...downfall of American youth self-esteem?

Ah, PR. How I love you so.


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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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