Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Greatest (unintentional) Marketing Scheme Of All Time

As I walked the halls of the Palisades Mall earlier today, while doing my last ever back-to-school shopping trip, I couldn't help but feel a bit nostalgic (and disgusted) as I walked past a certain store. In case the picture of the band L.F.O. didn't give it away, the store I'm talking about is Abercrombie & Fitch. For the past few years, A&F (for short) has become somewhat of a joke to my friends and I, whenever we pass by it at the mall. The shirtless models that greet you upon entry, mixed with blaring new age/house-ish music and over-priced tacky T-shirt's such as "Please Come Again" or "Show The Twins" have become the trademark of a one time favorite store of mine. Sure the fact that I'm 21 years old, and have not purchased anything in that store since my high school days might have something to do with it, but nevertheless, it is almost sad to see such a fall from grace for that store, with my own eyes.

Looking back now, the fact the I ever stepped foot in that store repulses me. The fact that Abercrombie was my go to store for personal use, and to buy gifts for my girlfriends/sister is laughable. But before I make fun of myself anymore for wearing "Fierce" cologne, or rocking pink polo's with my collar popped, I must first take you back to where it all began. The song (or enigma) that started the craze, and taught us all to "Like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch."

It was the summer of 1999. MTV was at the height of its popularity, and the music industry was filled with stars who gained that title with far more style than substance. The Backstreet Boys "Wanted It That Way", Ricky Martin was "Livin La Vida Loca", and all the while *NSYNC was insisting that "God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You" while Brittney hit you "Baby One More Time." It was a great time to be eleven years old. Catchy beats, pretty girls on the T.V. screen insinuating things that I wouldn't understand for years to come, and a never ending array of boy-bands constantly coming out with hit after hit (hit in terms of popularity and money generated, by no means talent). But for all the dime a dozen boy bands that came out around that time, all the 98 degrees and O-Towns of the world, there was one "band" that seemed different, a cut above the rest you may say. This band was called Lyte Funkie Ones (L.F.O. to all the normal people out there), and they hit the airwaves with a sense of comedy/light heartedness that made them fan favorites from the get go.

Summer Girls peaked at #3 on the charts in the summer of 1999, and to my fellow Z100 listeners and I, it became the theme song to our summer. Although most of (95% to be exact) the lyrics make no sense what-so-ever, there was still two things that we were able to get out of this song. One of these two things, was that the "band" missed a girl who "loves fun dip and cherry coke" that has been "gone since that summer." The other thing we got out that song was that "rock stars" liked girls that wore Abercrombie & Fitch, therefore, you weren't cool unless you wore Abercrombie & Fitch.

I still remember going back to school shopping with my mom before sixth grade that August, and buying a bottle of cologne from there along with a green T-shirt, and thinking I was the man. Unfortunately, I wasn't the only person who thought this way, and for the next five or six years Abercrombie became the place to shop. Every school dance, and day for that matter, was fulled with hats, skirts, shirts and jeans from that store. Sure we all went through our rebellious phases and rocked Ecko, or U.F.O. pants from time to time, but at the heart of it at all, everyone wanted to wear A&F. It really speaks dividends to our society as a whole, and how marketing and product placement truly works. Looking back on it now, it is so crazy for me to comprehend that because of a simple song, I went from not even knowing a certain store existed, to immediately obsessing over it and needing to have that type of clothing. This is the one example that I can most relate to, where I wanted something that I really didn't need, strictly because of the influence of media in my life.
Maybe the Abercrombie phase was inevitable, and I would have ended up shopping there regardless. At the time I wasn't aware what brands the older kids were wearing, but I can say with 100% certainty that "Summer Girls" was a catalyst in terms of getting me into that store, and the idea in my head.

One last thought on the topic: Lead singer/the only guy from the band anyone somewhat remembers, Rich Cronin was 24 when "Summer Girls" first got air-time. In the song, he sings about how he "likes girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch". I'm 21 years old, and I feel like if I even look at a girl that still "wears Abercrombie and Fitch" I could get sent to jail. Maybe times have changed, and perhaps ten years ago the store had an older following. Either that, or L.F.O. was a bunch of pedophiles.


"Bugaloo shrimp and pogo sticks,
My mind takes me back there oh so quick"

-Fresh

3 comments:

  1. wow. i guess i was the only asshole wearing nautica.

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  2. Danye. I was in Abercrombie right after Christmas time returning a few t-shirts from the relatives who ya gotta love, but you really want to yell at them for still buying you a size small muscle Abercrombie tee. Call me crazy, but when did that store become almost economically equivalent to Polo or Lacoste. Since when did a goddamn pair of jeans cost $100? Last time I checked, I was not a chick (sometimes I look like one when I rock the mangina, but that's a different story).

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