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A call for the firing of Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries

Old comments made by Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO have led to an apology for misinterpretations of the prejudiced words, but the gesture may not be enough.

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Abercrombie: apologies will never be enough

Retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has come under attack recently about previous statements made in 2006 which have re-emerged to take the internet by storm. Thanks to social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and others, the outcry has been loud and resonating.

A&F’s CEO Mike Jeffries attempted a half-hearted, at best, apology this week saying, “While I believe this 7 year old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context, I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense.”

It’s obvious in this statement that Jeffries is still blaming others for “interpreting” his comments “in a manner” that wasn’t how he supposedly intended. When he said A&F is “absolutely exclusionary” and only markets to “cool, good-looking people,” we’re supposed to believe there’s an alternative way to interpret that statement other than the obvious? No, there’s only one interpretation and that’s what people are justifiably outraged about.

Bringing prejudices to light

Even more telling is a recent meeting held between Abercrombie executives and teen protesters at which Jeffries was not present. In the meeting, Benjamin O’Keefe, who created a Change.org petition, pleaded with the executives to change their company’s “DNA.”

Furthermore, what is an aging and obsolete individual like Jeffries doing judging other people? He’s not some icon of saintly virtue or sexiness, he doesn’t give unselfishly to the community, but yet he points a finger at others and deems them unworthy of over-priced clothing that will fall out of fashion in its own time and way. And the reality is, this media storm has brought his prejudices to light and painted him in a spotlight so bright it’s blinding. Woe to the retailer who incurs such public wrath.

How A&F can apologize

If Abercrombie & Fitch as a company wants to truly apologize, they will fire their CEO. Immediately. Without any bonuses or benefits, because it’s a guarantee that if another employee other than a top executive had made those comments, not only would they be in court, but fired immediately.

Abercrombie’s continued allowance of this individual to represent the company is unacceptable and makes Jeffries’ apology worth less than the paper or screen it appears on. It’s obvious from his statement that Jeffries is only pandering to the media and telling consumers what he thinks they want to hear to save face. It will not work.

For A&F to repair the damage, it will undoubtedly take time. They need to find new leadership that will help steer the company in a better, more positive direction. And it’s possible for retailers to be properly exclusionary toward your market without being ignorant or prejudiced in the process. Let this be a warning to retailers everywhere: the American public will hold you accountable. Corporate executives must be held responsible for their actions.

Charity Kountz is an award-winning fiction and nonfiction author as well as a Realtor and certified Paralegal. Her writing has been featured in Coldwell Banker, iPhone Life, Strategy magazine, Duck Soup magazine, and more.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Chris Johnston

    May 24, 2013 at 8:34 am

    “If Abercrombie & Fitch as a company wants to truly apologize, they will fire their CEO. Immediately. Without any bonuses or benefits”

    Unfortunately this is a fantasy that will never happen, there is a reason those executive packages are called golden parachutes, and often negotiated in advance. Despite all the public outrage has the stock price taken a dip? Well, the answer is no. In the last month the stock has risen 17%, and as a CEO one his prime motivations (and usually something his bonus is based on) is an increase in value for the shareholders; he has delivered that.

    If people are really outraged by Abercrombie, they would stop buying their clothes. People who don’t wear Abercrombie getting mad at Abercrombie just proves all along what the CEO was saying.

    • Lani Rosales

      May 24, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Although I agree Jeffries should get the boot, I too believe Abercrombie should be on the “no buy” list for people who hate his philosophy. We showed our teen the #fitchthehomeless video (alluded to in the story above) and she sent it to all of her friends, so that’s 25 teen girls who have vowed to get rid of and stop buying A&F. And they have. By choice. That’s how the free market works. It’s beautiful.

      • Charity Kountz

        May 24, 2013 at 11:52 am

        I’m so glad to hear that Lani! That’s great! Together we can make a difference, I just know it! I’ve started a twitter & FB campaign to help raise awareness too. Thanks for assigning this topic to me, who knew I’d become so opinionated? lol

  2. Charity Kountz

    May 24, 2013 at 11:50 am

    I absolutely agree with you Chris – it’s a fantasy. But both could work to solve the situation – not buying the clothes and keeping the heat on the retailer’s executive team. While I realize they’re unlikely to eliminate him without benefits, they CAN and SHOULD eliminate him, regardless of contract. Look at what JCPenney did to their CEO – yes, there were performance issues but with the level of bad press the retailer is getting, it should be getting A&F’s attention and concern. Great comment @techchris:disqus! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Zach Paul Bowyer

    May 26, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I spent $500 on new clothes this past week IN OTHER STORES. I used to be a serious A&F customer but no more. It’s really too embarrassing.

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Business Marketing

7 ways Instagram Stories get people pumped about your brand

(MARKETING) Instagram stories are widely used, so why shouldn’t marketers get in on the Insta-story action?

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Instagram Stories long ago surpassed Snapchat at it’s photo-sharing joy, and has found to be a great place to build brand awareness and build your customer base.

Here are a few ways that you can use stories to get people excited about your brand, products, and service.

1. Share the story of your business

Showcase the creation of a product or service, or share something (legal and fun) that your team is working on. These behind the scenes productions humanize your brand and can really get people excited about it. Check out what Union Fare does!

2. Preview live broadcasts

Are you doing a Facebook Live or WebEx demonstration? Use Instagram Stories to tease and generate some excitement or pull attendees from one social media platform to the other.

3. Showcase your stuff in action

Whether it’s demonstrating an application, showing off a recipe, or showcasing an outfit, you can use stories to show what the end result of a product is and help them generate ideas on how to use that stuff! Because Instagram Live can be done spontaneously, you can show authentic, non-scripted demonstrations easily.

4. Brag time

When you support a brand, you get excited that you are a part of their wins. Share relevant milestones (subscriber counts, new products, new revenue, new contracts, new products, etc.) with your base. This helps build connection with your base.

5. Countdowns and giveaways

You can use stories to facilitate ways to get people excited about upcoming giveaways or new launches. Unlike static marketing, the use of countdowns can really get people emotionally excited and build anticipation for new products or services. You could also use stories to give special sales or unique giveaways that give a more “exclusive” feeling.

6. “Takeovers” from influencers or partnerships

If you are working with a promoter or influencer, you can have them generate content to send them over to you to use their voice to target your audience. The influencer can send you pictures and videos that you upload yourself, rather than handing over your account username or password (like with Snapchat). This is a great way to work with someone who already has a following that can help you expand your service or product reach.

7. Create unique content

Odds are, especially for smaller businesses and new entrepreneurs, you don’t have a lot of time to invest in production value for other advertising. Instagram Stories with the use of stickers, paintbrush, and text can be a great place for raw, but still polished content that has a one of a kind feel. Familiarize yourself with the tools, and don’t be afraid to get artsy.

Make Instagram work for you

Instagram is constantly adding new features, so make sure you stay tuned for updates and play around with those features often. For example – Instagram stories can rewind or being hashtagged. Or use the eraser brush to do slow teases or product reveals.

Given that users can now bookmark content as well, you can create demonstrations or examples and give your audience a quick reference to your content. Get learning, check out stories, and start building those unique, intimate, and creative engagements with your consumers.

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Business Marketing

Half of all Instagram users buy immediately after seeing an ad

(MARKETING) If you’re advertising on Instagram and yielding no results, read on – it’s a gold mine for *some* types of brands.

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If you’ve been on Instagram you’ve likely fallen victim to the algorithm’s knack for showing you advertisements for something that seems exactly suited to your tastes. Or, someone you follow on the app tags their post with the name of the brands that make up their cute outfit and you decide to see what else they might offer. I’ve ended up with more than one pair of sneakers this way.

Instagram’s popularity and effectiveness have made it a marketing powerhouse. Over 130 million people look at product tags on the app each month.

Recently, Facebook commissioned a study asking users to explain what their interaction with companies and brands on Instagram was like. A whopping 66% of people said that the used Instagram to interact directly with brands — and 54% of users said they purchased something immediately after seeing an ad in their Instagram feed. Ads that are in the “stories” feature, independent of users’ feeds are especially effective.

After it was acquired by Facebook, Instagram has grown to account for over 19% of the tech-giant’s advertising spending — nearly double what it was in 2018.

Facebook is planning on continuing to capitalize on Instagram. They announced that soon users won’t need to navigate out of their feed to the retailer’s website purchase items, but rather have the ability to buy things in-app.

Instagram will take a cut of these in-app purchases and partner with PayPal to process payments, adding a new revenue stream to the growing platform.

As part of expanding its foray into shopping, Instagram is also partnering with its most popular influencers.

These people will be able to directly sell the products that their sponsors are offering through their accounts, rather than direct them to their sponsor’s account. At the beginning, only major accounts belonging to celebs like Kylie Jenner or Gigi Hadid will have this option, but it seems like after its initial launch more sellers will be to take advantage of the feature.

So, be prepared to have even more sneakers in your future, friends. It looks like those Instagram ads are going to get even more powerful.

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Business Marketing

10 podcasts that every business owner should hear

(MARKETING) If you’re a business and want to learn something, give one of (or all of) these ten podcasts a listen.

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So many choices, so little time

As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

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From interviews with business leaders to industry specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

Business podcasts for your listening enojoyment

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly populat show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further thna Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real world applications and cover everything from marketing to techology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

#LearnSomething

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