The former CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, Mike Jeffries, was outspoken but got the company lots of publicity. Dressed in “casual chic” threads, Mike Jeffries could have fooled you. At over 60, he didn’t quite dress or act his age. He used words like “dude” or “cool” many times throughout the day. But all of this was totally appropriate behavior for a guy who, at one time, spearheaded one of the most enigmatic brands in the world of fashion. He transformed the image of Abercrombie and Fitch from outdoor gear to ultra sexy cool. But he didn’t stop there. In fact, his goal was to make Abercrombie’s brand the most coveted and exclusionary in existence. To that end, he become more and more eccentric, often making controversial remarks that slowly began alienating the very stakeholders he was trying to attract.  Many of his ad campaigns were overly provocative. Eventually, it took a toll on the brand.

  • Discuss whether the phrase “all publicity good publicity” still applies in today’s world. 
  • Discuss whether advertising in the form of PR stunts is an ethical way to promote a brand.
  • Discuss whether you think the apology issued by Abercrombie and Fitch was enough to quell consumer anger. What would you do differently if you were the one issuing the apology? 

Read and Watch

The man behind Abercrombie & Fitch | Salon (Jan 24, 2006)
Quotes from Mike Jeffries, former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO | The Balance Small Business (Aug 23, 2018)

Abercrombie and Fitch Sizes Under Fire, Critics Say Normal, Plus Sizes Not Sold in Stores | ABC News (May 9, 2013)

Fitch, Please | The Ellen Show (May 17, 2013)

Abercrombie & Fitch Apologizes After Plus-Size Firestorm | ABC News (May 29, 2013)

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries is Stepping Down | Bloomberg (Dec 9, 2014)