Use of Sexuality in Abercrombie and Fitch Advertising

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The Naked Truth of Abercrombie & Fitch

To what extent is it acceptable, in an age of shifting morals and the increasing acceptance of sex and violence in entertainment, to use sex to sell to consumers? Does this definition of acceptable shift when the consumers are underage children and teenagers? We all know that "sex sells", but deciding where to draw the line is becoming increasingly difficult as what is acceptable is redefined with each new generation. When does a company's tactics move from representing progressiveness to having crossed the line? Well in Abercrombie & Fitches case they continue to push the envelope.

A&F Quarterly was a magazine-catalog hybrid periodical sold by Abercrombie and Fitch from fall 1997 to December 2003. Circulation for the Quarterly averaged one million to 1.2 million during the late 1990s. The publication, released four times a year, featured articles about college life, photo essays by Bruce Weber, and advertisements for the company's clothing. In addition to this, the company's 280-page book included nude young adult models in highly suggestive poses, as well as articles on sex -- elements apparently intended to boost the clothing retailer's brand among college-age customers.

In December 2003, Abercrombie and Fitch decided to stop issuing its quarterly magazine, which it had published in addition to its catalogs since 1997. In a statement issued at the time of the recall, Abercrombie said, "While it has enjoyed success with the Quarterly over the years, the company believes it is time for new thinking and looks forward to unveiling an innovative and exciting campaign in the spring." "We just felt it was time to retire it and come back with something that has beautiful imagery and classical photos," said Hampton Carney, company spokesman, in the Times. "... But that doesn't mean they're going to go totally conservative and lose their nerve. According to, Abercrombie said that the recall of the magazine was due to the need for counter space for a perfume, but opponents of the catalog are saying that it was in response to protests against its racy content, such as nude models and articles about sex. Criticism is not new to Abercrombie's marketing strategies; groups such as the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, the American Decency Association, and the Focus on the Family organization have protested against its sexual content for several years, according to the New York Times.

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