Abercrombie & Fitch's Jersey Shore 'Situation': Bad or Good Publicity?

OPINION

 @http://twitter.com/jtalty on August 17 2011 12:34 PM
The Situation
Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino's gossip site SitchNews.com has fired back at former "Jersey Shore" cast mate, Angelina Pivarnick. REUTERS

Abercrombie & Fitch announced on Tuesday that it would prefer Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and the rest of his "Jersey Shore" cast mates to stop wearing its clothing line, fearing it could harm the brand.

Wait ... which brand are we talking about, again?

While Abercrombie & Fitch might be worried about the negative effects of The Situation wearing its clothing line, it really should be The Situation that is upset.

The cache that the company built up after LFO's "Summer Girls" song is long, long gone, and The Situation is much more relevant to the everyday consumer.

MTV's "Jersey Shore" continues to draw in amazing ratings, posting its third best rating ever with the premiere of the show's fourth season.

Abercrombie & Fitch has actually tried to catch in on the Jersey phenomenon in the past, unveiling a "Fitchuation" T-shirt last summer.

The Situation, in an interview with New York magazine last summer, claimed that A&F told him it was its most popular shirt.

That might come off as strange, considering its most recent move to offer a significant amount of money to the cast to stop wearing A&F clothing -- but there is one common denominator.

In both instances, Abercrombie & Fitch is doing one thing: trying to cash in on the show's success.

First it was using MTV's brand to sell T-shirts, and now they are trying to get some publicity out of this latest stunt.

And frankly, it's working.

Major newspapers and television stations across the country have done stories on A&F's plea, and more are sure to come.

More and more people will likely be searching Abercrombie & Fitch on the Internet, perhaps even checking out the company's Web site.

Kudos are in order, for sure.

Not only did the company attach itself to a popular, yet easily hated "Jersey Shore" character, but also timed its announcement perfectly.

The company released the announcement late Tuesday night, just a few hours before its Wednesday earnings report.

The company announced strong same-store sales growth of 9 percent and a 64 percent profit increase from last year's second quarter.

The company's stock price took a hit on Wednesday after the announcement, dropping about 5 percent at mid-day trading, but it is gaining in other areas.

It is getting millions of dollars of free publicity through this stunt and perhaps some renewed brand relevancy. Actually, some Wall Street analysts even agree.

"In the near term, we believe this will certainly drum up some excitement and talk about the brand, which doesn't hurt as they are about to open 40 plus stores overseas in the second half of 2011," Nomura analyst Paul Lejuez wrote in a note.

There's no need to fault A&F for this public relations coup, but just label it as such. Don't pretend that this is actually about protecting the brand against the hard-partying Situation and crew.

This is all about making money, no matter what A&F might say.

And you know what? It was a brilliant move.

 

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