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Abercrombie & Fitch faces backlash for aspirational branding May 20, 2013

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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Seven year ago Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries stated during an interview that his company strategically excluded certain customers. Jeffries stated:

“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.”

In a matter of words, Jeffries suggested that A&F intentionally avoided overweight customers, in addition to anyone else who might not be cool. Seven years later, after the comments were republished in another article, the internet exploded in outrage. Several stars have lashed out at the brand, and Jeffries was eventually forced to apologize. He stated, “While I believe this 7 year old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context, I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense.”

For more on A&F’s image crisis, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Is A&F being unethical in targeting certain young customers while excluding others?

2.  Why have the comments by Jeffries, made seven years ago, resurfaced with more impact?

3.  How might have Jeffries said the same thing in different words to avoid such harsh reactions?

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