Is it about Abercrombie & Fitch? Or is it about us?


Abercrombie & Fitch is hardly the only clothing brand to not make plus sizes. If A&F CEO Mike Jeffries committed a faux pas, it’s for saying in public what many other executives privately think (whether in similar words or their own definition of cool):

In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.

Did he get a reaction? Absolutely. But most of the comments online about #fitchthehomeless are more about bashing Abercrombie & Fitch than genuinely helping homeless people. And that reveals far more about some of the general public than Mike Jeffries candid comments say about himself or his brand. Something to think about.

Update: July 10, 2013

In what must be a slow news day, some people want to make A&F’s clothing color palette an issue. According to A&F:

“Abercrombie & Fitch does not sell black clothing and discourages wearing it at our home office and in our stores, because we are a casual lifestyle brand and feel black clothing is formal,” said the company in a statement. “We have nothing against black clothing and feel it is perfectly appropriate for things like tuxedos.”

And the problem is?

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What part of the Paleolithic Diet does DreamWorks and House Foods Tofu not understand?

What would Fred Flintstone eat?

What would Fred Flintstone eat?

Co-branding and co-promotions, when done well, can introduce new customers and bring energy and innovation to more established brands. I worked for a few years at an experiential marketing agency that often brought together automotive and like-minded brands in other categories, and I can claim personal responsibility for getting Scion to sponsor roller derby bouts across the country in 2006—a move that enabled Scion to venture beyond their constant hyping of house music, rap and graffiti art and reach a cohort of young drivers they previously ignored.

So I was interested to see DreamWorks’ co-promotions for its new movie, The Croods.  I understand DreamWorks faces pressure to do something healthier than Happy Meals. But  promoting tofu with cavemen is ironic.

Cavemen were hunter/gatherers. They could not have eaten tofu, nor French fries for that matter. And what they ate inspired the modern paleolithic or caveman diet, a diet popular at crossfit gyms and based on what cavemen likely ate: wild plants and animals caught on the run.

What do contemporary paleo diet practitioners eat? Mostly fish, grass-fed beef, eggs, vegetables, fruits, fungi, roots and nuts. What do they not eat? Grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar and processed oils. What’s tofu? Soy and soy is a legume, which, like Fred Flintstone, no self-respecting caveman would ever eat. But I’m sure the target of moms looking for inexpensive sources of protein could care less about historically accurate foodstuffs as long as their kids eat it. Hint: add tofu to mac n’ cheese. It’s delish and no one will know it’s there!

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I don’t Like a lot of stuff on Facebook

facebook-thumbs-downI’ve been thinking about Facebook’s Lookalike Audience targeting and how Liking something on Facebook doesn’t always translate into a purchase. A person on Facebook might Like Ferrari and drive a Ford.

What do I Like on Facebook (and what might this suggest about my buying habits)?

                  • Some bands such as Slade, Mott the Hoople and Sweet, and Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band, which doesn’t have an avatar or a FB page and just 34 people out of the entire FB universe claim they “Like”
                  • Some books like Chesapeake, The Satanic Verses, King Rat, The Mayor of Casterbrige, The Last of the Mohicans (not the movie), Silas Marner, Lord Jim and Moby Dick
                  • Couple of movies: Atlantic City, Casablanca, Girl on a Bridge, When Father was Away on Business
                  • Some activities like boxing, traveling, hiking

What is missing is Liking any brands or products. But there are two things I own that I would not like to go without: a Traeger grill, which as of this second 26,686 people Like, and an Instant Pot, which is Liked by 1,138. Both of these are great products. Both do things in a ways nothing else can. Both should last a long time. If either were to break, I’d no longer like them (not unLike them on Facebook; I don’t Like either of them on FB), I mean, not like them. For real. But I don’t expect either of these to breakdown.

So if I were to Like on Facebook either my Traeger Grill or my Instant Pot—which I don’t Like, on FB I mean—what might that tell marketers? Maybe what stuff I might want to buy to put on my Traeger Grill or put in my Instant Pot? Probably not. We buy whole sides of grass-fed beef and hogs from ranchers we didn’t meet or Friend or Like on Facebook. Vegetables? We grow an amazing amount in our backyard. Recipe books? Recipe books! That way I’ll no longer have to look up recipes online. Actually, I love books. Hardcover books. I don’t like e-reading. But I’m talking about novels. Recipes are perfect for clipping into my Evernote. I like Evernote. Just not on Facebook.

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My April Fools’ LinkedIn Page

April_Fools_LinkedInA large number of people, who’ve not been on my LinkedIn page in years, chose today to visit. Changing my job status on April 1st from Freelance Senior Copywriter to Boxing Trainer and Manager at Starr’s Boxing Emporium could be the cause.

So far no one has publicly congratulated me on LinkedIn about my new job. Of course, the best fictions are based in fact. And while I’ll never have the skills needed to train a professional boxer, I do box to keep fit and write about it now and then.

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Free Bird: A Groupon Lynyrd Skynrd Case Study

  • Challenge: ’70s southern rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, needs to recruit a new generation of listeners while attracting older fans.
  • Solution: Groupon ticket sales during their 2013 tour for almost half price.
  • Results (fantasy): People will sample Lynyrd Skynyrd, as if they’re an ice cream cone or a new Thai restaurant, and then be willing to pay full price for seats at next year’s tour.

I’m joking. Playing to a capacity crowd, even if they sell tickets at less than face value, will help Lynyrd Skynyrd earn more money than playing to an empty house. It’ll also help them sell more copies of the CD they released last year. That’s why this Groupon deal makes more financial sense then when a local ice cream parlor or Thai restaurant gives away product to people whose only loyalty is to finding the next deal. And, oh yeah, Bad Company are playing, too.


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When truth in advertising gets criticized

I don’t often write about advertising. It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just so many others have the time to do it on a regular basis. When I write about advertising, it’s either because I see an opportunity that’s not been covered or because an ad campaign touches on larger issues.

Like when New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg launches a blunt ad campaign that relies on data to reduce teen pregnancy, and it’s condemned for speaking the truth.



What’s the objection? That these ads shame unmarried, teen mothers and fathers.
Who’s saying this? The organizations and people who say they care about unmarried, teen mothers and fathers. In other words, the very people who should know how difficult life is for unmarried teen moms and their babies.

If they care as much as they say, maybe they would do more good if they:

1) Care less about hurt feelings of unmarried, teen mothers and fathers
2) Care more about the lives of unmarried, teen mothers and fathers
3) Care more about the babies of unmarried, teen mothers and fathers

Instead, Planned Parenthood of New York City writes a press release that includes a quote from Haydee Morales, Vice President of Education and Training at Planned Parenthood of NYC.

Teenage parenthood is simply not the disastrous and life-compromising event these ads portray.

How do you reason with logic like that?

And while teen pregnancy rates have declined the past two decades, the CDC reports that those who did not graduate from high school, and who tend to be the poorest population, account for 83% of first births outside marriage. If Ms. Morales thinks that’s okay, at least Mayor Bloomberg does not.

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Don’t Like Your Job? Go AWOL

Bob_Skin_Art_1Bob’s an old guy who lives in my neighborhood. He’s got what he calls skin art on his left arm, a faded mermaid he met in San Diego.

Bob rolled up his sleeve because I asked him if he was in the Navy. I asked Bob if he was in the Navy because of his language. I like Bob. You’d like him, too.

Bob joined the Navy during the Korean War. Assigned to a ship transporting caskets back to the States, Bob vowed he would not spend the war on a floating hearse.

So Bob went AWOL for five days and 12 hours.

Bob’s punishment: four weeks in the brig, then put on a destroyer and he got to see the world. Bob got exactly what he wanted.

What do you want? Or more specifically, what do you want to change? Are you willing to go AWOL to get it? AWOL doesn’t have to be Absent Without Official Leave.  For you it could be A Work Of Love or Acting Without Limits (this is becoming far more *new agey* than I planned). There’s no guarantee you’ll get what you want and you may not like what you get, but you might get a change.

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