Choose your celebrities carefully!

Oops we’ve all been there.  Struggling to see how a campaign can generate coverage on the strength of its news value – the easy answer is to wheel in a celeb and the column inches will follow. Aligning brands with people, places or events can be risky as companies bank on the fact that the association will remain positive.

Some say Abercrombie & Fitch’s accidental association with a ‘celeb’ was no accident. Perhaps, but what is clear is that it is an unmitigated disaster.  10% off the A&F share price, acres of negative media coverage plus a lot of very unimpressed customers – some have tweeted they will never wear A&F again.

Who’s to blame – well the PRs of course!

Faced with a potentially damaging situation, the team took the reckless decision to ride the wave of media interest and issue a press release offering to pay Mr Sorrentino a “substantial payment” to refrain from wearing its apparel.

What they didn’t factor in was that the public – many of them their customers – didn’t like this ‘too posh for the likes of you’ stance and the result was a social media storm ripe with indignation.

Criticised for adopting provocative marketing tactics such as a parade of shirtless models to open their Paris store, while arrogantly dismissing those who they deemed didn’t fit the brand, didn’t go down well.

This PR team’s controversial brand protection effort is a lesson to us all.  Understand your brand, and more importantly your audience:  taking aim at a hit TV show that its customer evidently likes was never a good move!

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