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Brand hijacking: consumer power only reinforces A&F image05/16/2013 | Follow Neil | Connect with Neil

Graham Hales, CEO of Interbrand London at last year’s AMC

At last year’s AMC, Graham Hales from Interbrand talked about how companies no longer fully own their brands and how us, the customers and consumers play an active role in shaping brands in this joined-up digital world.

This video (top) from @gregkarber has kicked off his #Fitchthehomeless campaign where he wants to try and alter Abercrombie & Fitch’s brand image as their CEO has confirmed what we knew all the time – they don’t make clothes for large people, only who they consider attractive.

I get the A&F approach. People wearing their clothes are a great advert for other people and if you have the disposable income and the physique to wear some of their skinny T-shirts or skinny jeans (bitter, me?) then you’ll like the fact that you are thought of as attractive and cool. Who wouldn’t be? Lots of retailers and brands do this. If you are working in the fickle world of fashion then I guess you have to do this or watch your image go down the drain. Look at Burberry and Hackett, both brands attracted the ‘wrong’ type of brand ambassadors and as a result I wouldn’t wear either – I’m not a football hooligan or chav.

So, will Greg’s noble ambition change A&F’s brand? No. Sadly not. I wish it did, as this would be a great advert for active consumerism. Instead I think what will actually happen is that A&F’s CEO will laugh it off and do nothing. Because this campaign will actually only reinforce the brand values of A&F as it highlights that only the coolest, most attractive people can wear them. The easiest way to put yourself in this category is to go out and wear an A&F item of clothing. Job done, you are now cool and attractive (or homeless, but the shopping trolley and sleeping bag should give you away).

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