It takes more to create a cool exclusive brand than a CEO who says so. A&F is learning that the hard way. CEO Mike Jeffries explained in an interview in 2006 that “We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
And once things are on the internet, it’s out there for ever. These quotes have resurfaced again, but this time people are taking action and protesting against the retailer. It also inspired Greg Karber to create this viral campaign to help A&F a bit with a re-branding. Only after 2 days, the video reached over 3 million views:
Companies have to understand that a brand image is created by public perception and as a company you can steer it by communicating your brand identity through product design, advertising, stores…and interviews by your spokespeople. That didn’t end up that well for A&F. The company issued a statement today on Facebook saying that Mr Jeffries’ quotes were taken out of context and that he was misunderstood.
In my opinion, A&F tries to create an exclusive brand with not-so-exclusive clothes. But then again, it’s one of the few US retailers thus far who committed to signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.