Business of Fashion, Fashion Law, Lifestyle

A Fashion Law Situation for The Situation

Jersey Shore love or hate aside, let’s discuss The Situation with Abercrombie & Fitch

Yesterday, CNN Money reported that A&F offered Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino compensation to not wear Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) merchandise. Apparently A&F does not want everyone wearing its brand.

A&F released the following statement:

“We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans”….”We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.”

The greatest surprise to me from this bribe compensation offer by A&F is the revelation that “The Situation” and other cast members wear (or wore) A&F.

Two reasons A&F not wanting its brand synonymous with Jersey Shore reality stars is a fail:

  1. The Jersey Shore has coined “G.T.L.” as a representative term for their daily agendas of “gym, tan, laundry.”  A&F decided to use G.T.L. on it’s shirts.  Jersey Shore cast member, “DJ Pauly D” tweeted:

    “Hmmm if They Don’t Want Us To Wear Those Clothes Why Make GTL Shirts #yourPRsux

    Abercrombie & Fitch G.T.L. Shirt Inspired by The Jersey Shore

    G.T.L. is an acronym developed on MTV’s The Jersey Shore. G.T.L. stands for Gym, Tan, Laundry

  2. A&F’s proposition seems hypocritical.  This offer proposed contract between A&F and cast members surprised me because I thought the cast’s brand loyalty was to Ed Hardy and brands exclusively sold at Metropark USA. (Hmm, did Metropark USA recently go out of business because of its Jersey Shore clothes? Or is Metropark USA relaunching with the Jersey Shore cast as their models? All kidding aside, if that store is planning to reopen I hope the buyers consider pivoting from its current style profile.)

Maybe someone at A&F made this decision for some attention and free marketing. 

Do you think negative attention is still good publicity for a brand?

The Jersey Shore’s possible legal action against A&F:

  • Trademark Infringement
    • Generally speaking, a trademark is any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof used by a person as a source indicator
    • G.T.L. would be considered a “fanciful” slogan or trademark because it is a made-up term
    • The reality stars could succeed if a cast member ever sold “G.T.L.” items even at their jobs at the shore store, as such a sale could count as proof of use in commerce (which is a requirement of a trademark). 
  • Copyright Infringement
    • Copyright protection subsists in 1) original 2) work of authorship 3) in a tangible medium of expression
    • A work is ”fixed” in a tangible medium of expression when its embodiment by or under the authority of the author, is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration
    • The growth of Jersey Shore’s “G.T.L.” was videotaped and disseminated by MTV

A&F stock has been plummeting since before its allegations that such reality stars would diminish its reputation. Acting as if its brand is too good for some people seems like a plan for disaster.

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