If you are Abercrombie & Fitch, looking to glom onto the highest-rated TV show for young people in the summer, what better way to snag some fish (reporters) in the summer, which can be a dull time for stories?
At first, it seemed like a strange reverse-product-placement deal: A&F wanted to "pay" Mike Sorrentino, aka "The Situation," for not wearing its clothes on "Jersey Shore" because it was hurting the company's "image." This offer was also extended to other cast members.
Maybe. An A&F chief executive said the retailer was "having fun with this." Bottom line: How much did A&F pay for such attention? Zero. That's some nice media budget ROI working there.
This comes along with recent data showing that while branded entertainment is still a good buy, many marketers have less confidence in the post-buy metrics on what they're actually getting. Press clippings are another matter.
MTV execs fired back with with an Open Rebuttal To A Certain Clothing Retailer Who Dissed Our 'Sitch.'" We don't know if A&F is a big MTV advertiser. But if it isn't, all this might push A&F to become one. (MTV ought to issue a press release seeking the faux cast member payments.)
Seems that there is always some "controversy" around "Jersey Shore." Early on, this came from public interest groups who were upset the MTV show didn't portray young Italian-Americans in the right light.
A&F jumped on this PR in the peak summertime period because the show can be a lightning rod for all sorts of stuff. And back-to-school business is around the corner.
Young-skewing marketers don't always have many opportunities to grab large amounts of young viewers in key TV shows -- because many viewers are elusive and slippery, moving around to other media, especially digital, very quickly. Young-skewing marketers like A&F need to be cool and to charm their young customers in different ways - even something fleeting, even something that appears opposite of what the marketer publicly says it wants.