From the “No-such-thing-as-bad-publicity” Department comes a skillful move by clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch to attract attention to their brand. They publicly offered Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, and the rest of the cast of the reality TV show “Jersey Shore,” a “substantial sum of cash” to stop wearing their brand of clothes. “We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image,” they stated in a press release.
Let me say two things about their media play: I love it. And I don’t believe it’s the least bit sincere. A&F’s gambit is marketing brilliance because it really can’t hurt their brand by spoofing their frustration. It bought them far more attention than a typical ad campaign or an army of half-naked male models (a staple at their stores) could attract. I’m also guessing that few fans of “Jersey Shore” will be offended by the move. The Situation is a polarizing figure on the show anyway.
And what makes it an even smarter move is that it’s so startling, you have to stop for a minute to realize it’s all tongue in cheek. If Fitch really were “concerned,” there would be: 1. More lawyers involved. 2. A counter move by the Sitch himself, who I strongly suspect was in on this from the beginning and already received his “substantial sum” to play along quietly. 3. Much LESS publicity, and frequent “No comments” from the players. No, it’s a slick PR idea, well orchestrated and about as real as, well, Jersey Shore.
Steve Jobs is nothing short of a legend in his own time. He started Apple Computer along with Steve Wozniak back in 1976 and embarked on an amazing journey that has ultimately seen Apple become the most valuable company in the nation as measured by stock market capitalization. Jobs is widely credited with being the soul and visionary mind of the company, and while he has a few thousand other geniuses helping him create products, he has been the face of the brand for much of its existence. Now as he steps away for health reasons, the resilience of the Apple brand will be tested as they move forward without Jobs as a day-to-day leader. (He has retained his title as Chairman.)
I expect Apple won’t try to put a direct replacement in front of the public. They are better off allowing the aura of Jobs to remain around the brand as long as possible. Jobs has been mostly a business-to-business pitchman in any case. The buying audience sees clips of his major product introductions, each one a textbook example of how to present to a live audience. But he has never been the advertised face of the brand, which has always had a clear voice of its own, going all the way back to the legendary “1984” commercial that essentially drew a line for the brand that no other tech company has ever been able to cross. Time will tell if Apple can continue its run of innovations and their must-have coolness. Either way, there’s no denying that Steve Jobs built one of the greatest brands ever.
The results are in from this column’s regular readers on the most-likely-to-fail brand: Just over 60% of voters chose My Space as hanging by a thread. Next was the new Fiat 500 with 16%. Of course, the advertising network, Specific Media, that bought My Space from News Corp (yes, the phone hacker chaps) in June for $35 million is betting we’re wrong. But with Google Plus now making a run at Facebook, it’s hard to imagine My Space becoming relevant again, without becoming far more vertical and narrow. Speaking of must-have coolness, My Space used to have it, but it’s gone and probably never coming back. Then again, Royal Crown Cola still exists, if you can find it. If only I could find a way to get paid not to drink it.