Branding clothing and celebrity endorsements

A&F bag Last week, the celebrity gossip sites were all abuzz with the news that Abercrombie and Fitch had asked The Situation to stop wearing its clothing. The retailer was unhappy about the brand being associated with the reality-TV star.
Usually companies jump at any opportunity to have their clothing worn on the streets by a celebrity. There are full fashion spreads in magazines that show readers where to buy the exact same pair of jeans as a handful of stars. In fact, most companies send celebrities free samples of items just to encourage them to wear the pieces out.
But Abercrombie and The Situation jive as well as oil and water. The retailer, who has made its money on an advertising campaign that basically says you'll look better taking off our clothes than wearing them, didn't like the drama-filled Jersey Shore star wearing their gear on film and out on the streets. Its preppy polo-shirt and jeans look doesn't necessarily describe the muscular, tanned and boisterous East-coast native.
The whole situation brings a fresh look to branding clothing and celebrity endorsements. In this world of instant technology and celebrity-obsessed culture it may be easier for companies to get their products out to the public but it is also more difficult to control who is sending the message. The wrong endorser can be detrimental to a brand if it turns customers away or changes the image the company is trying to establish.
But at the same time – a company can't ask anyone, and certainly not a public figure, to stop wearing something because it sends the wrong message. It seems to me it would have been a better marketing move for Abercrombie to step-up its own advertising campaign and ignore The Situation's antics.
(Although, to be honest I wouldn't mind seeing fewer Abercrombie stores around these parts. Between their scantily clad advertising pictures, shirt-less models standing around for customers to take pictures with and thongs for grade-school girls they aren't exactly a company high on human dignity.)


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