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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

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?

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Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

Here’s how one employer was able beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.

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Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make perssonel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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