Posts Tagged ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’

Not Brand Dilution – Brand Confusion

Posted by Robert Weitz on August 21, 2011 7:17 PM

I resisted the temptation to jump on this news story just because I did not want “The Situation” and crew anywhere near The Brand Wash. Unfortunately, 2 great blundering behemoths of macho brands have collided, leaving in place some interesting fragments of clarity and truth.

What happened? Certainly not dilution. The concept of dilution comes from trademark law. This is grabbed from Wikipedia and from my experience is a good general definition:

Trademark dilution is a trademark law concept giving the owner of a famous trademark standing to forbid others from using that mark in a way that would lessen its uniqueness. In most cases, trademark dilution involves an unauthorized use of another’s trademark on products that do not compete with, and have little connection with, those of the trademark owner. For example, a famous trademark used by one company to refer to hair care products might be diluted if another company began using a similar mark to refer to breakfast cereals or spark plugs.”

It is usually a conflict between 2 marks, and the confusion that might occur when 1 mark is in some way so close to another in look, feel or other attributes that the consumer is unsure as to whom they are dealing with.

The word from Abercrombie & Fitch is that, “We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image…We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast.”

Here’s my fly-on-the wall of the branding department conjecture: The problem is that Abercrombie & Fitch is, like the GAP and a number of other global brands, refocusing their brand message/image to speak to emerging global markets, as they should be. And “The Situation” does not represent Abercrombie & Fitch’s new brand image. So how do you stop them? You could engage in legal bullying, but these kids thrive on a good fight, have a substantial following and a lot of PR muscle. Or, you could get a bunch of good publicity for your shift in message and use the diss to bolster your brand. No more confusion and a lot of free press! Quite a play and well done.