Just when you thought that the celebrity brands of Jersey Shore cast members would mercifully fade into the distance, Abercrombie put them back into the spotlight. In effect, A&F has given the cast a golden opportunity to sharpen the edges of their brands, galvanize their fan bases, and make themselves more marketable overall: it's a great time to be on the cast of Jersey Shore.
Earlier today, Abercrombie and Fitch issued a tongue-in-cheek press release offering money to Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and other cast members NOT to wear their products. The stunt was picked up by mainstream outlets like USA Today and the WSJ and not just Access Hollywood, E!, and the like.
But while it's ostensibly negative to have a an apparel company insult you publicly, this action has opened up a new set of opportunities for the cast members. By manufacturing this issue, A&F is pushing the GTL crew into the arms of smaller, scrappier competitors, such as Ed Hardy, Affliction and others, any of which could benefit to a greater degree than Abercrombie. Or potentially even worse for A&F, the cast could create or license their own clothing line.
How the Jersey Shore cast gains from this:
- Acknowledgment of influence. A&F acknowledges and propulgates the idea that Jersey Shore is incredibly influential.
- Money. I don't know what constitutes "a substantial payment," but whatever it is, cash is being offered. And that cash could be used to start a new clothing line, for instance.
- A news platform to launch that new clothing line, or to talk about a new endorsement
- Sharpened brand edges, by helping define what they aren't (they aren't A&F-wearing preppies; they're self-proclaimed Guidos). And with a sharpened brand comes tighter identification with their biggest fans, who aspire to be more like them--God help us.
Meanwhile, it feels like A&F loses a bit in this PR stunt, even as they sharpen their own brand:
- They might be alienating their own customers. The Abercrombe and Fitch brand might not be completely aligned with the Jersey Shore brand, but it likely has an overlapping customer profile. In fact, last year, A&F sold a popular t-shirt emblazoned with the words, "The Fitchuation."
- They're creating enemies who they're currently helping to popularize. Because the message is a punch-in-the-face to the cast, the cast, hurt feelings in tow, might take less money to endorse competitive products. Unless the stunt is all a hoax, it is certain that Pauly D and the gang will be energized to make life difficult for A&F.
- They're a little late to the game. It's not even an original idea that A&F marketers could preen themselves over. Last year, very similar stunts were already played out: a nightclub in New Orleans banned clothes seen on Jersey Shore , and Coach was suspected of sending Gucci bags to Snooki.
In any case, I don't think it will be long until we see a JWoWW clothing label--she already has a tanning lotion.