View Full Version : Does Sex Sell?

11-19-2003, 02:15 PM
Okay I just read an article about the new Abercrombie & Fitch catalog...apparently it is so racy it has an 18 or older warning on the front...what happened to a company being confident about its ware to just show the clothes rather than several pages of naked people before you get to their wares? I am not offended just exasperated....what happened to just opening a catalog and seeing clothes, etc..?

Captain Stamina
11-19-2003, 02:27 PM
This is an exerpt from an article on this topic:

...Abercrombie sees no big dilemma in marketing lesbianism, bestiality and that whole sex-with-seniors thing to kids who are eight-, nine-, 10-years old. By the way, the company claims that it doesn't – but how, then, did my friends' boys end up with the catalogue?

And it's not just the photos. There are in-depth interviews with transgendered sexpots, porn stars – you know, all the types you would just love to leave your kids alone with, to fill their minds with the types of things their own minds are filled with. How delightful. ...

(Full article is here: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/4/30/174135.shtml)

11-19-2003, 02:37 PM
See, now what does any of that have to do with buying their clothes? Give clothes that last at a good value....isnt that what we are all looking for?

11-19-2003, 02:42 PM
First off, yes, OF COURSE, sex sells. Has been for years, will be for years to come. But that's not the point here.

My husband and I don't shop at A&F, primarily for their catalogs, which are pointless and, in my opinion, degrading.

I don't buy anything from Calvin Klein for similar reasons - hypersexual ads, dangerously thin models, and pointless advertising that has nothing to do with the products.

Educate yourselves about where you shop and make sure that people who might be in a position to purchase gifts for you are aware of your shopping politics. Call the places you don't like, or write, and tell them what your concerns are.


Captain Stamina
11-19-2003, 02:44 PM
You missed the point. The catalog is to bring them into the store. If they're in the store, they may buy something.

It's like the cash-in/out windows at casinos. They are as far from the entrance as possible. This means you have to walk through the entire casino on your way out the door. Statistics have shown that a majority of the people will play the slots on the way out.

It's also why there's candy, batteries, magazines, etc., at the checkout counter at grocery stores.

11-19-2003, 03:00 PM
Wow. That article sure is...um.... I know, I know, this isn't the point, but any article that lumps lesbianism and transgenderism in with bestiality is going to raise my hackles.

Didn't A&F used to be...well, the preppy, slightly stuffy stuff your older brother wore? Who on earth is their marketing director now? Larry Flint?

11-19-2003, 03:11 PM
Being in advertising and PR for about 25 years, I can tell you a whole lotta businesses believe that sex indeed sells. Furthermore - they justify their actions by saying it's what the public tells them they want ... in focus groups, in polls and by positively affecting their profit margin, sales, and bottom line.

The problem is, I think a lot of people are fed up with companies that pander to our base emotions to sell their products, but those same people are not willing to send that message to the offenders by ceasing to purchase their goods, services, and products. It's too much of a hardship or hassle - particularly if what they're purchasing is something that's one-of-a-kind or a brand they've used for years.

So - because the public continues to spend their money on products even when they don't like, are offended by, or are simply tired of the way they're marketed, the companies have no reason to change. If it ain't broke, they figure why fix it? And a boycott of a product, service, or good - or of an entire company isn't effective unless there are a substantial number of people devoted to sending a message - much like the Montgomery bus boycott which went on for well over a year.

Personally, I am boycotting two particular McDonald's restaurants owned by the same franchisee because of an assalt on by the boyfriend (did I mention he was a punk?) of a manager trainee in which the restaurant manager did little to nothing about it. I could have, and in retrospect should have, reported the assult to the police and filed charges. I gave my name and number to the manager and was assured the owner would call me - he didn't. He also suggested I submit a written report of the incident to the owner ... I didn't ... and I told the manager I wouldn't.

Here's why: As a long-time and loyal customer of that establishment, I should have been afforded at least the courtesy of a phone call by the owner to hear what I had to say, and frankly - he should have done everything in his power to make things right. I told the manager the same thing - and that as long as they continued to employ the manager trainee (who also threatened me), I didn't feel safe patronizing the restaurant. Since nothing was ever done I refuse to give the owner any of my hard-earned money.

Does it make a dent in his bottom line? Probably not - but I tell everyone I know who goes there what happened to me when I just went in for lunch with my 11-year-old on a Saturday and now many of them are boycotting as well. I'm sure none of us will make a real difference, but for me its a simple notion of principle and my conviction to that principle. I don't like the way I was treated, I really don't like the fact the manager and owner did nothing that showed me they valued my continued patronage - so they no longer have it.

It's the same thing here - it's just plain people - who if they'd really stand by their principles might just affect some changes in the way companies market to the public. Personally, I've never liked trendy, status-oriented clothing for two major reasons - one, I see no need to pay someone and inflated price just to wear their name on my ass or boobs or wherever. Second, because I've been in marketing for so long - and because I'm a jaded, hard-hearted old wench - I've never thought wearing or doing something just because a herd of mindless, wannabes did was something good! I like to be an individualist ... OK, I've embraced my inner geek!

Now, if I could just get my kids to think wearing Walmart jeans instead of Sean John or South Pole was a cool thing.


keira strongbow
11-19-2003, 03:24 PM
Ummm.... That link to a website the author is promoting as the A&F boycott site goes to a porn site. Interesting... Wonder what's up with that...

Jeannie Fitzgerald
11-19-2003, 04:06 PM
Ummm.... That link to a website the author is promoting as the A&F boycott site goes to a porn site. Interesting... Wonder what's up with that...

I had the same problem. Plus that site puts one or more cookies into your computer that keeps popping explicit ads onto your screen (fortunately I have a program that strips them). Stay out of it.

My hackles were also raised by the unpleasant references to lesbianism and transgendered sexpots. Being from Missouri (pronounced miz-zur-ra, btw), I first went to A&Fs website and while the whole emphasis was more on suggestive sex than outdoor wares (getting to the latter was a hurt in the donkey while the sex aspect was everpresent along the way), nothing was really all that offensive, although many (including me) may feel it inappropriate for children.

From there I went to the disguised porn website inappropriately suggested by the article. I now very seriously question the validity of the article.

I won't do A&F the honor of attempting to see one of their catalogues; the website alone was enough to turn me off them, as if their well known snob status hadn't already.

Interesting note: Patrick McManus wrote a humorous essay called, "The Outfit" that appeared in hs book, "A Fine and Pleasant Misery" lamenting the change of his favorite mail order outdoor outfitting catalogue from just selling outdoor gear to one that primarily featured pictures of "beautiful people" wearing high priced fashions. Sound familiar? Btw, if any of you haven't read any of McManus' works, do, even if you couldn't care less about outdoor activities. The guy is hilarious. My daughter read all of his stuff when she was a teen and would die laughing even though her idea of outdoor activities was the dash from house to car.

Jeannie Fitzgerald
12-09-2003, 10:37 PM
I found this news article about this subject (mayhap there's hope):

Abercrombie & Fitch's Blue Christmas
The dirty little secret behind the racy catalog: lousy sales.
By Daniel Gross
Posted Monday, Dec. 8, 2003, at 11:53 AM PT

The 2003 Christmas shopping season may be only a few weeks old, but it's already pretty clear who the big loser is: Abercrombie & Fitch. In November, in the face of a boycott led by the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families, the company recalled its racy catalog, the A&F Quarterly, which bears more resemblance to Playboy than to the Wilson Quarterly. The "Christmas Field Guide" featured cover language promising "group sex and more" and photos of wholesome-looking youths in not very wholesome poses. On Sunday night, 60 Minutes charged that Abercrombie is the apparel industry's version of Hooters, hiring hotties to work on the sales floor and relegating less bodacious associates to the stock room. The company also faces a class-action lawsuit filed by former Clinton Justice Department civil rights hand Bill Lann Lee, which claims the all-American retailer discriminates against nonwhite job applicants.

But all the controversy masks a problem much more basic than a cynical willingness to distribute borderline pornography in an effort to stimulate sales or a warped sense of what constitutes an all-American look. Abercrombie & Fitch has failed to master the essentials of Retailing 101. The untitillating truth is that the chain's numbers stink and its breakneck expansion efforts have been expensive flops.

In retailing, the most important metric is same-store sales, or how much money shoppers have spent at outlets that have been open for a year. The figure highlights whether a retailing concept has staying power. Abercrombie & Fitch's monthly sales releases, visible here, spin a tale of economic decline. In November 2003, same-store sales were down 13 percent compared to the previous November's sales. That's bad. Worse, it was the fourth straight year of same-store sales declines in November—the leading edge of the Christmas season. In November 2002, same-store sales fell 13 percent, and in the previous two Novembers, they fell 5 percent and 8 percent, respectively. In other words, an Abercrombie store that tallied $1 million in business in November 1999 rang up $666,000 in November 2003. Full-year sales figures were not much better; they fell 7 percent in 2000, 8 percent in 2001, and 5 percent in 2002. That's troubling, especially given that costs like rent, labor, energy, and advertising tend to rise over time.

Abercrombie nonetheless maintains the illusion of growth by opening new stores at a furious pace. The company's total number of stores has risen from 275 in June 2000 to 694 in November 2003. Founded in 1892 as a purveyor of quality hunting and fishing gear, it counted clients ranging from Ernest Hemingway to President John F. Kennedy. In the hands of retailing conglomerate The Limited, which acquired Abercrombie in 1988, it grew into a national chain by pitching a casual, all-American look—a younger, more accessible version of Ralph Lauren. Abercrombie went public in October 1996 and spun off from The Limited in May 1998.

As an independent entity, it embarked on a classic strategy of segmenting a market. The flagship Abercrombie & Fitch stores targeted college-age kids. In 1997, it rolled out Abercrombie kids, for the 7-to-14 set. And in 2000, it introduced Hollister Co., geared toward high-school kids. Today there are 164 Hollister stores.

By investing heavily in Hollister, Abercrombie both increased its bets on a highly fickle audience—teenagers—and ran the risk of cannibalization. After all, many brands that explicitly define themselves as being geared at a particular demographic are really aiming in large part at the next-youngest group. (Think R-rated movies or beer.) Part of the allure of the product is the idea that you're not supposed to be using it. So, the racy Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs—you have to be 18 to buy them—are aimed as much at high-school seniors as college seniors.

The problem is that the teen audience, raised in a climate of highly accessible pornography and lewdness, requires an ever-higher level of raunchiness to be shocked into consumption. A&F's catalogs have been banking on illicit activities for years. In 1998, the Center for Science in the Public Interest slammed the back-to-school catalog's "Drinking 101" promotion. Here are some fun facts about the 2002 magalog. And this summer's back-to-school catalog was dubbed "The SEX ED Issue."

But people in the business of selling sex to teens face a law of diminishing returns. For Britney Spears, simply gyrating and groaning used to be enough to send teens into paroxysms of consumption. With each passing year, however, she's been forced to raise (or lower) the bar. And even though she audaciously sucked face with twice-her-age Madonna on national television, Britney has seen her album sales slide.

Every year Abercrombie & Fitch goes to greater lengths to appeal to teens' prurient interests, too, hoping hormones will translate into sales. It's not working. It may be that the firm has signally failed to understand its customer, which is the most fundamental rule of retailing. The catalogs titillate teens, but they're increasingly angering their parents. While 16-year-olds may be able to go to the mall by themselves, most still rely on their parents to pay for the clothes they buy.

purple stars
12-10-2003, 01:18 AM
This one thing that I didn't think that A&F would have to do!! all I really can say is just WOW