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Abercrombie And Fitch: Marketing Towards Teens

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Abercrombie and Fitch

Marketing can make all of the difference in the world when it comes to attracting customers to your establishment. In this day and age, marketers know that sex sells. It is more acceptable in certain areas of business than others. For example, an ad in the men’s magazine, GQ, might have an ad of hundreds of scantily clad women running after a man on the beach, alluding to the fact that his scent (Axe deodorant) is so great, that they all want him. And if you want women all over you, then you should use this deodorant as well.

However, sexual ads/products aren’t always the best way to promote your company. Take the clothing retailer, Abercrombie and Fitch. Back in 2005, they churned out some t-shirts with “themes”. These shirts were aimed at college-age girls and they had controversial one-liners on them, such as; “Who needs a brain when you have these,” or “I had a nightmare I was a brunette.” And “Give me something to scream about.” ( These shirts were met with much controversy. Many people felt these shirts undermined women’s rights, and sent the wrong message to the teens everywhere. It also sends the wrong message about the wearer of the shirt, and doesn’t help much in the self-confidence department either. Being the fact the Abercrombie and Fitch is one of the top brands that high school kids wear these days, those shirts are something that they have the option of purchasing. Sometimes, even though a product is marketed for a target demographic, it can transcend to other demographics, unknowingly. The high school kids see that their favorite store has new shirts that come with “cool/funny” quotes, they will be more than happy to wear that shirt to school the next day. Being that kids are so impressionable, they will see one person at school wearing it, and instinctively, wanting to fit it, they will think that wearing a shirt that promotes promiscuity is something to be proud of. This also can be seen with the Camel cigarette brand, which had a talking stuffed camel, Joe Camel, as the mascot of their brand. This lend to major controversy as well, because things like a stuffed animal appeal to younger kids, and if Joe Camel is smoking, you should be as well. In a settlement in 1998, RJ Reynolds agreed to cease promoting Camel cigarettes with Joe Camel. (

While being fashion forward, you don’t need to emphasize sex appeal, especially selling to youths. They are very impressionable, and the words on those shirts will give them the wrong idea, and that being sexually forward, by implying things like showcasing your breasts will get you farther in life than your education isn’t the most socially responsible thing for Abercrombie and Fitch to promote. Also, since teenagers who are wearing the shirts might have younger siblings, they will also want to wear what their older brother or sister is wearing. I know that growing up, I always looked up to my older cousins as role models, and I always wanted to do what they were doing, as well as wear what they were wearing. Abercrombie and Fitch is the parent company of abercrombie; which markets to preteens ages 7-14; and Hollister who market to teens the ages of 14-18. ( These kids are very impressionable, and shirts like “I make you look fat” do nothing for their self confidence levels. ( I think that there are so many other ways that a company can increase profits, and avoid exploiting a young person by selling sexually charged shirts. They can sell more tasteful clothes, and still be on the cutting edge of fashion for youths.

These shirts have caused such controversy that there were girls who decided to “girlcott” the popular retailer, in hopes of them pulling the offensive shirts off their shelves. ( This issue also reached itself to Illinois Senator, Steve Rauschenberger, who was rallying for senate help in banning the shirts from Illinois shelves of the store. (

Due to the amount of backlash for selling the shirts, Abercrombie and Fitch released a statement on their website in November 4, 2005, ( which stated they would pull several shirts that Abercrombie felt were humorous that others



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