Sunday, October 2, 2011

Maybe they'll pay me to not wear Calvin Klein.

        A few weeks ago, the news came out that Abercrombie and Fitch would pay the cast of "Jersey Shore" to not wear its clothing on television.

         Apparently, a cast member had been showing off his abs while wearing their apparel. "The association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand and may be distressing to many of our fans", claimed the company's press release. (Apparently having half-naked guys to welcome you at the doors of their stores and employees spraying everything with fragrance is within the aspirational nature of their brand.)

          Sounds like "pay to not wear" could become a terrific new scam. We can create a television show with all kinds of questionable characters. Then we'll contact Mercedes, Ritz Carleton, Chanel, Boss, and some others and promise not to mention them on the show --- for the right kind of money. "Jersey Shore" would never do this, but I'm tempted.

          What do you think about Abercrombie paying to have TV characters not use their products? It sounds extreme, but is it any worse (or, indeed, any different) from a company paying a show to use their apparel? Or giving celebrities their clothes to wear, for the publicity?

          I don't think there's any difference at all. A company has a right to protect its brand, and promote it as it sees fit, within the law, of course.

          Would Tommy Hilfiger give blazers and shorts to everyone on "The Biggest Loser"? I don't think so, any more than Chanel would sponsor Animal Planet. They're not, in my opinion, a good fit for the brands.

           A brand is a precious thing, to be nurtured and cherished, and meticulously grown strategically. Over the years, significant amounts of money --- billions --- are invested in brands. The wrong steps can endanger all that.

           A recent economics study showed that the Coca-Cola brand, by itself, is worth far more than all of the company's bottling plants, factories, buildings and trucks all over the world put together. Just the brand!

          That's why it's so important to take care of a brand, and protect it. As they say, never bite the brand that feeds you.


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