The Anatomy of an “Un” Branding Video: Abercrombie Gets Spanked

May 27, 2013 | Comments (0) | | Category: Forward This Internet Video and Webisodic Series Marketing with Video Video Spotlight

The Anatomy of an “Un” Branding Video:  Abercrombie Gets Spanked

(Note:  Every time we start to post this blog, the Abercrombie saga intensifies.  Updates are below.)

We know that video is a powerful thing.  A good example is any film that Michael Moore has ever created right before a presidential election.  Aside from social/political issues, the next best use of video – of course – is to market and brand cool companies.  But lately we’re seeing the rise of the Un-branding Video.

About two weeks ago, a smart young grad student became offended by the CEO of Abercrombie, who was documented in a 2006 interview saying that fat/uncool kids don’t belong in their clothes.  (See full text of CEO’s comments, below.)

Said grad student decided to take action, in the form of a video, called “Abercrombie:  The World’s Number One Brand of Homeless Apparel.”  See Abercrombie Video.

Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch

Robin Bond Media isn’t taking any position on all the corporate “un-branding videos” out there; freedom of speech is the basis for most of the YouTube videos.  However, we DO want to point out – academically – where we think the Anti-Abercrombie video Got It Right.  Regardless of the goal or end result of this video, we like the approach to Great Video Storytelling, for these reasons:

1.  Interesting Story. Yet another example of CEO/politician/celebrity/thought leader smiling for camera, opening mouth, and inserting foot.  We just can’t get enough of this timeless phenomenon.

2.  The first bit of this narration is short and clear:  This CEO is the devil.

3.  Run time is good.  2-3 minutes is perfect for a story like this.  (Note:  we think 2-3 minutes is generally TOO long for a YouTube video if you don’t have a compelling story like this one.)

4.  Current Event.  Somewhere in our cluttered brains we viewers are going, “Oh yeah, what did that idiot CEO say again?”  Makes us want to click on the video.

5.  Controversial.  See #1 above.  As a society, we love to get our panties in a wad over the missteps of pompous white men.

6.  Gossipy.  ‘Nuff said.

7.  Social commentary on numerous fronts.  It’s easy to inspire audience outrage and action with altruistic messages about  anti-bullying, rise of the underdog, fighting the power, etc.  It’s even better when the Goliath on the other end is labeled “Corporate Greed.”

8.  Call to Action.  Clear and compelling.  My house contains 3 teenage girls-worth of Abercrombie clothing, and it’s all packed up and ready for re-distribution.

9 .  Celebrity Endorsement.  This was just luck, I’m sure.  But Kirstie Alley is 100% behind the Anti-Abercrombie initiative.  Awesome for social media.

10.  Humor.  At least 2 very funny moments in here.


Protestors at Abercrombie & Fitch HQ

Protestors at Abercrombie & Fitch HQ

Because the creator of the anti-Abercrombie video used good video storytelling techniques, we are happy to say that he opened up an intelligent conversation that appears to be having a happy ending.  Abercrombie execs invited teens protesters into Abercrombie headquarters, and pledged new commitment to issues of anti-bullying, tolerance and inclusion.  Read Huffington Post article.

In the interest of full disclosure we have to point at that upon the posting of this story, the backlash to the backlash video had begun:  homeless advocates have asserted that this Anti-Abercrombie initiative was NOT exactly helpful to the serious problem of homelessness.  For good measure, we thought we should share at least one other hot-off-the-press big-brand-attack video.  This video about Coca-Cola’s alleged disregard for Australian wildlife isn’t nearly as compelling, but paints a powerful visual nonetheless.

Here are the original inflammatory comments from the CEO of Abercrombie:

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.” –  Mike Jeffries / CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch 

Mike Jeffrie / CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch

Mike Jeffrie / CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch

The takeaway is this:  Whatever you have to say, regardless of how popular, polarizing, asinine, or subversive, you should call Robin Bond Media so we can help you effect change with a “Good Story. Well Told.”  Contact us at: Robin Bond Media Video Production.

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