Abercrombie’s Situation and Lacoste’s request

Reversing the normal rules of product endorsement, Abercrombie & Fitch have offered a “substantial” sum to Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino – or any cast member from MTV’s popular ‘reality’ show Jersey Shore – not to wear their clothes.

In a report released in August, a spokesperson for the preppy teen retailer said, “We are deeply concerned that Mr Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We have therefore offered a substantial payment to Michael ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino and the producers of MTV’s Jersey Shore to have the character wear an alternate brand. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.”

While I don’t see the appeal of watching a group of eight loud-mouthed, obnoxious and vain Italian-Americans, the MTV show has proven to be both controversial and hugely successful in equal measures. While other members of the cast have benefitted from endorsements, such as weight loss supplements, alcohol and tanning products, Abercrobie & Fitch would like Sorrentino, one of the most popular characters on the show, to switch to an “alternate brand” as they believe the show is, “contrary to the aspirational nature of the brand.”

Since the release of the anti-endorsement offer, Abercrombie & Fitch have received a backlash from people questioning their logic. When the cast members took to Twitter, one in particular, Pauly D, queried: “Hmmm if They Don’t Want Us To Wear Those Clothes Why Make GTL Shirts #yourPRsux.”

Despite the inarticulate comment the sentiment rang true, as Abercrombie did release a range of t-shirts intending to cash in on the huge popularity of Jersey Shore. One top in the collection read, “G.T.L.,” which is the cast member’s mantra and daily routine of gym, tan and laundry. A second shirt said, “The Fitchuation”, a play of Mr Sorrentino’s nickname.

Of course, marketing experts and journalists are all in agreement that this offer is nothing more than a cynical PR stunt, designed to get Abercrombie & Fitch column inches during the crucial back-to-school season, the second biggest shopping period of the year. Let’s face it, it does seem a little bit strange that a brand who employs half-naked models to stand outside their flagship stores, who has courted controversy with inappropriate catalogue images, who has sold racist t-shirts, who sells padded tops for children and who discriminates against disabled employees would really believe that the characters portrayed on Jersey Shore would be the people to damage their brand image.

Update 10.11.11

In response to this, it has been reported that French label, Lacoste, have asked the authorities in Norway to prevent Anders Behring Breivik from wearing the brand.

It has been confirmed by police prosecutor Christian Hatlo that Lacoste have contacted the police with a request, however he refused to comment on the conversation.

Breivik, the right-wing extremist, who has admitted killing seventy-seven people during bomb and gun attacks in July, has been pictured wearing Lacoste items since he was arrested.

The murderer, whose request for an open hearing and the opportunity to wear a uniform was denied, referred to Lacoste on a number of occasions in a rambling “manifesto” that emerged after the attacks.

The Guardian reported, “In one section, he advised would-be followers to wear “Lacoste etc, conservative colours” in order not to arouse suspicion.

At another point, referring to his solitary existence while preparing for the attacks, he wrote of the “mostly unrefined/un-cultivated [sic]” people in the area where he was living.

“I wear mostly the best pieces from my former life, which consists of very expensive brand clothing, LaCoste [sic] sweaters,piques etc. People can see from a mile away that I’m not from around here.” “

The anti-endorsement doesn’t seem so funny now, does it?