What NOT to Assume About Controversial Quotes
Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries' comments in an interview about how he doesn't want plus-sized girls and "losers" shopping in his stores has angered a lot of people, particularly moms.
From a communications perspective, it is a great example and reminder about the permanence of public comments. After all, Jefferies made these comments 7 years ago in a 2006 interview with Salon Magazine. Yet my Facebook posts are lighting up about it today, and the following story ran this week!
Controversial comments are like flames that may settle into embers, but are never reduced to ashes - they can flare up again anytime.
The second important reminder about controversial comments is the assumption that people often make - that they were delivered in error.
There is a healthy, ongoing debate on this point. Are these controversial comments haunting Jefferies or do they result in coveted publicity for the Abercrombie brand? Do these comments actually drive "cool" kids - or those who want to be - to stores with a renewed vigor, or do they push would-be customers away in disgust? Is Jefferies emboldening his base while upsetting those who will never shop at A&F anyway?
Some say Jefferies is brilliant. Some say he's an idiot who is part of what is wrong with society.
I wonder (sadly) if getting a boycott petition flying through cyberspace can be a boon for this retailer.