On the topical chopping board for today: Abercrombie & Fitch and Nutella.
It strikes me that both cases are the same issue really, just from different angles. First up:
Nutella & www.nutelladay.com:
who are lucky enough to have someone who loves their product so much they volunteer –yes, out of the good of their heart– their time over several years to create an entire day dedicated to Nutella.
Does Nutella reward said good-hearted citizen with a lifetime’s supply of Nutella and prostrate themselves at her feet in a show of unremitting gratitude at having someone create a free piece of marketing for them? No, they send her a cease and desist letter instead and the sweet Nutella-lovin’ soul is forced to cancel Nutella day.
Oh, and then they react to the viral backlash they receive –mostly from those within the comms industry, remarking on how absurdly foolish they have been to throw their toys out of the pram in such a fashion– by retracting said C&D warning. It was all just a simple case of a “routine brand defense procedure” going wrong, dontcha know.
Abercrombie & Fitch…
…on the other hand, have done all they feasibly can to make their brand as odious as possible, all without any outside help. (“Look mum, no hands!”) The well-documented remarks of founder, Michael Jeffries, on just how exclusionary he wants A&F to be, inspired someone to go out there and do a bit of active brand ‘re-positioning’ on their behalf. And so, Los-Angeles based writer, Greg Karber, set about off-loading collected A&F clothing to the homeless. Nice guy.
Some people have remarked that it’s a bit of an insult to consider the homeless as the ultimate ‘anti-cool’. Fair point, but I still think homeless people probably care about having clothes on their backs (high-quality ones at that) more than they care about what everyone else thinks about what they think about being considered uncool, if you get me.
Nutella, I think, can be summed up as a bit of a “it’s our brand, not your brand” playground exchange. That and some very reactionary lawyers. It must be a pretty strange realisation for some companies that they are no longer always the last word in their own product marketing. Perhaps it’s akin to seeing your child go off to big school for the first time and requires a realisation that you can no longer control their every action; there will be influences in their life other than you. And Abercrombie? Personally, I think they got what they deserve for being so morally objectionable in the first place. I hope it serves as a reminder to them, that you can never keep your product or brand entirely to yourself, in just the same way that grown-ups don’t exclude people for not being ‘cool enough’ in the real world.