When Abercrombie & Fitch asked Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and the rest of the “Jersey Shore” cast not to wear the company’s clothing in exchange for payment, headlines took off. Then came the clever rebuttal from MTV, tweet responses from Sorrentino and fellow cast mate DJ Pauly D, and even a five-minute segment on NBC’s Today Show. The situation (sorry, couldn’t resist) was clearly a PR stunt, but was it worth it?
While Abercrombie & Fitch took some heat from “Jersey Shore” fans and the company’s stock price coincidentally dropped during the same time period, Abercrombie still made out with a tremendous amount of press and brand visibility. The immense attention drawn to it, and the follow-on events—including the CEO jokingly bringing it up during the company’s earnings call—have brought Abercrombie into the brightest spotlight that it has enjoyed in a long time.
While PR stunts are always a risk for fallout or generating shallow perceptions about a company, some do work in a company’s favor. Abercrombie seems to have played its cards right. Calling out a high-profile, controversial reality show in connection with its brand piqued widespread interest across young mainstream consumers—Abercrombie’s target buyer audience.