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Public Relations Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

 

Aixa  Henriquez,  Marijke  Wijnands,   Hanna  Engholm,  Dora  Dong,   Jamie  van  Dijk  &  Dian  Rietberg     Teko  University     1    


Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

 

Preface In this project we have defined a PR strategy for the company Abercrombie & Fitch. We have been following a structured approach in order to define the PR strategy, by first performing a situation analysis and identifying the issues. Formulating a communication strategy relating to the mission, vision and values of A&F. Then defining the most important communication issues to two important stakeholder groups and setting out the corresponding objectives. Finally we have created the public relations strategy and tactics and set out the plan right through to implementation and evaluation criteria. We have chosen the necessary communication tools and media to fulfill the needs of the stakeholder groups. In this report you can find a situation analysis, a risk analysis, a target group analysis, internal/ external/stakeholder and target group analysis. SMART defined objectives for A&F. A conclusion and recommendation. Throughout the report we made sure to focus on the objectives, success criteria/KPIs and argued using and applying the relevant theory of the book to support our choices. Hanna Dulwich Engholm Dora Dong Marijke Wijnands Aixa Henriquez Dian Rietberg Jamie van Dijk

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

Contents Summary  ...............................................................................................................................................  4   Introduction  ............................................................................................................................................  5   1. Stakeholder Analysis  .......................................................................................................................  6   2. Internal Analysis  ...............................................................................................................................  7   3. Marketing  ..........................................................................................................................................  3   4. External analysis  ..............................................................................................................................  4   5.Communication strategy  ..................................................................................................................  7   6. Stakeholders  ...................................................................................................................................  11   7. Strategic Analysis  ..........................................................................................................................  14   8.Evaluating the Strategic Plan  ........................................................................................................  17   9.Conclusion  .......................................................................................................................................  18   Literature  ..............................................................................................................................................  19   Websites:  ........................................................................................................................................  19   Books:  .............................................................................................................................................  19  

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

Summary Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (A&F) is a leading specialty clothing retailer holding four unique lifestyle brands. Founded in 1892 and incorporated in Delaware in 1996, A&F, through its subsidiaries (collectively, A&F and its subsidiaries are referred to as “Abercrombie & Fitch” or the “Company”) operates retail stores and direct-toconsumer operations under the Abercrombie & Fitch, abercrombie kids, Hollister Co. and Gilly Hicks brands. Although Abercrombie & Fitch says to care a lot about diversity and inclusion they really don’t seem to act like it. Since a few years Abercrombie & Fitch has been involved in legal conflicts over their employment practices, clothing styles and the treatment of their customers. Organizations state that Abercrombie & Fitch discriminates their employees and their customers with their clothing styles. In May 2013 there was a big scandal about Abercrombie & Fitch not making clothes for large women. And to make it even worse CEO Mike Jeffries admitted that ‘’Abercrombie & Fitch only makes clothes for good looking people, because they attract good looking people’’ After analyzing Abercrombie & Fitch with an stakeholder analysis, a internal analysis, and an external analysis that was used for a SWOT analysis of Abercrombie & Fitch. The SWOT analysis is used as input for a solution for the issue. Not updating and communicating to shareholders, discriminating behavior against customers and having a bad influence on the community. Then we formulated a new communication strategy that relates with the mission, vision and values of Abercrombie & Fitch. Due to the PR crisis it is really important that it is implied very strategic. Building trust and creating a platform for consumer participation should be the key objective for Abercrombie & Fitch. Abercrombie & Fitch should use different media to restore their reputation and loyalty. Then we looked deeper into the issues with the stakeholders and what the priorities of Abercrombie & Fitch are in those issues. This analyze was input for communication objectives. Those objectives were the base for the new strategy. For that strategy are three methods that could help Abercrombie & Fitch to solve their issue; Two-way symmetric communication (Dialogue), Reach out internet-campaign and Storytelling. If Abercrombie & Fitch would choose to choose the Two-way symmetric communication it is important to start the conversation with the shareholders and customers so they feel more involved. If Abercrombie & Fitch start to do the internetcampaign they should shift their focus but keeping their brand core values. Storytelling is a great method for Abercrombie & Fitch to re-urn back the trust of the customers and shareholders. By finding a greater connecter than just the product, people will be more compelled to buy the product because the brand represents their lifestyle. To evaluate the implementation of the chosen strategy there is an evaluation plan to check if the campaign was a success and fulfilled the objectives.

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

Introduction  

For this project we had to define a PR strategy for a company of our own choice, we chose the brand Abercrombie & Fitch, because it has been in the spotlight many times and we thought it would be interesting to see how the company is build up and how we can improve the PR tactics and strategy. In this report we did multiple analyses and research of the brand to come up with a new, improved PR strategy for the objectives we created. By performing these analyses and setting objectives for the brand, we are hoping to come to a successful new and improved PR strategy, which will increase the success of the brand. From this we will draw conclusions and make a recommendation. In the report you can find all of our analyses and results, with the corresponding arguments.

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

1. Stakeholder Analysis Abercrombie & Fitch have different stakeholders; the public, their employees, shareholders, competitors, customers, suppliers, the government and their financial partners. In a report A&F says that they carefully consider the opinion of their stakeholders. While they have traditionally engaged more with their internal stakeholders, they have been actively reaching out and engaging with external stakeholders for the past several years and intend to expand their efforts. To engage with their internal stakeholders they use district manager surveys, diversity essay submissions, social media and training programs, they offer a number of platforms for feedback. Abercrombie & Fitch plan on enhancing internal employee engagement as they move forward with the development of additional corporate responsibility goals and objectives. Externally, Abercrombie & Fitch engages with the nonprofit groups and organizations that they support, some of which are in the local Columbus, Ohio area while others are based in cities where we have a store presence. A&F also engages its customers through social media and mobile commerce in ways that reinforce the aspirational lifestyle of the brands. In addition, Abercrombie & Fitch work with non-government organizations to continue advancing their community and stakeholder engagement. They have an opportunity to further engage all of these target audiences around their corporate responsibility initiatives and intend to do so in the future.

Target group Analysis • • • •

Geographic: Abercrombie and Fitch have a focus on the United States of America and Europe. To be more specific they focus on big cities. Demographic: Abercrombie and Fitch focus on male and female teenagers between 13 and 22 years old. Psychographic: Abercrombie and Fitch focus on a healthy and active lifestyle. Behavioristic: Medium to high purchasing. The teenagers love to experiment with their looks and try to identify/profile themselves.

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

2. Internal Analysis Organization Strategy Abercrombie and Fitch's competitive strategy is one of focused or niche based on differentiation. Their customer base is a narrow segment and since Abercrombie & Fitch not a price competitor, although not as highly priced as high-end designer-wear, their focus is on casual wear for those with a chic and adventurous attitude. Corporate Culture Abercrombie & Fitch has an informal culture. On their website they say: ‘At Abercrombie & Fitch, we approach diversity and inclusion from a very broad perspective, recognizing that there are 25 different dimensions of diversity that make up who we are. In short, we define diversity and inclusion as follows: Diversity is about whom you are as an individual – what's seen and unseen. It also includes the rich differences between individuals such as race, gender, family, sexual orientation, work experience, physical ability, and religion. Inclusion is about embracing those differences, and thoughtfully and enthusiastically enabling those differences to equally contribute.’ The culture of Abercrombie is although it is informal, really important. Employees have to wear Abercrombie clothing styled shown in their special style guide. A former employee told Cosmopolitan in september 2013 what it was like behind the scenes at the corporate headquarters. The employee also talked about the severe dress code. The employee says ‘‘You’d hear rumors about people who didn’t wear A&F clothes appropriately and were told, "Please don’t eat lunch on campus anymore, go to the distribution center" — a hidden-from-the-public building off-campus — "and eat there." A few of the female designers were a bit heavier, but of course they still had to be brand appropriate, so you’d see them wearing men’s jeans and hoodies. It’s one thing to encourage your employees to wear the brand, but when your brand literally doesn’t make clothing that will fit you and tells you to wear it anyway? It seems like a subtle way of being discriminatory.’’ The employee also says that the food in the cafetaria was always healthy, probably to prevent the employees from getting fat.

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch  

Company structure The company structure of Abercrombie & Fitch uses a ranking system or hierarchical structure. The company is organized along different major business processes/functions, each headed by an Executive VP or Senior VP. These functions are Finance (including Information and Store Operations), Planning (encompassing Store Design and Sourcing) and General Counsel and Secretary. With functional set-up, Abercrombie and Fitch maintain a taller organization structure. There are four basic layers at senior management level, with the CEO at the top, EVP/SVP on the second, EVP/SVP on the third and SVP at the fourth level. The many layers of organization structure allow the management at A&F to have a narrower span of control, therefore concentrating on managing their own lines of functional areas. It is therefore easier for the management to improve the efficiency and the quality of work within respective business functions, as communication will be easier. This will lead to quicker decision making. Lines of command, authority and accountability are clearly defined and understood by employee. For example, the SVP in charge of Stores are held accountable for only the functions of Technical Design and Design of Stores. However, there is less delegation of authority and empowerment, as senior managers at the top tend to grasp a tighter control over the subordinates. There are disadvantages in organizing the company into a tall structure. There is a bigger communication distance between the CEO and the employees as layers of hierarchy increases. For example, Katherine Rigby, the SVP Design, needs to go through five management layers in order to reach Mike Jeffries, the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch. The tall structure delays communications between management and staff, which may have adverse impact on work co-ordination and employee motivation.

   


Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

With regard to the decision making process of Abercrombie and Fitch, the tall and functional structure facilitates each business management to make their own decision within their functional areas. The functional heads are empowered to make tactical decisions in order to ensure smooth operations of day-to-day business. However, when it comes to important or strategic decision-making, which will have impact on the company as a whole, the decision-making authority is still centralized at the very top level. The CEO, together with the next level of EVPs/SVP who command the overall views of the company operations, will be responsible for making decisions. Abercrombie and Fitch does not operate on a flexible organization structure which is more appropriate for companies which need to collaborate across different business processes/functions more frequently and/or work on project basis for new product development. Instead, Abercrombie and Fitch opt for a more conventional tall structure, which is quite costly to maintain. Hence, in times of financial downturn, there may be opportunities for the company to delayer its structure in order to reduce costs, improve communication, and encourage delegation within the business organization.

   

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

3. Marketing STP Model Segment: Teenagers who love sporty, fashionable and glamorous look. Target group: Teenagers (Male or Female) in the age of 13 to 22 years old. They have a healthy and active lifestyle. They are medium to high users and they are in a phase in their life where they are trying to identify/to profile themselves. Positioning: Stylish but sporty clothing. A&F is known for its racy marketing photography by Bruce Weber. It is rendered to grayscale and features outdoor settings, usually with semi-nude males and females for an increased tone of sexuality. A&F casts only store employees for marketing campaigns. Casting directors from the home office travel to key A&F regional stores in the United States and to London to hold "casting calls" for employees aspiring to become the next "A&F New Face". The company promotes its casting sessions, models, and photo shoots in the "A&F Casting" feature online at abercrombie.com. The website also provides a gallery of current photography. Framed copies at A&F stores will sometimes name the model and store.

     

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

4. External analysis Political Political factors can have a big influence on the way a company does business. The decisions made by the government has a direct effect on a company. All of the countries where A&F is located operate in a free market-oriented economy with rules and regulations to protect them from imitation. This helps the Abercrombie and Fitch to protect their products. There are also rules, regulations and laws that they have to follow such as rights of employees, workers and shareholders. The effect employee laws have are significant, because of the labor intenseness of the apparel industry. Trade regulations play an important role too, as it exposed to overseas competition from nations where their employees receive much lower wages.

Economic By 2015 Abercrombie & Fitch is planning to close 180 stores in the United States. There are stores in the U.S that are really successful like the flagship in New York City where buff men are standing outside in minimal clothing to lure customers in. But a lot of other stores are under-performing. These are mostly the stores that are located in malls. Here there is no possibility to put shirtless models outside to lure customers in. The main reason of the decreasing amount of sales is the rocky economic situation in the United States. The consequence of this recession is that the sales of the products are going to get significantly lower. This leads to retailers being stuck with large amounts of inventory. They will have to reduce the prices of their products to get more sales and to compete with low priced clothing brands. They will also think about other ways to reduce the costs. Abercrombie decided to close a number of stores hoping to maintain their brand image and their profit margins. Meanwhile Abercrombie is opening new stores not only in the United States but also abroad. A lot of stores are fleeing to Europe and Asia because they have a better economic situation and therefore the consumers have more money to spend on clothing. In Europe Abercrombie already opened seven flagships and 62 Hollister stores, but the initiative to maintain their profit margins is not succeeding because the store traffic in Europe is also slowing down because of a worsening debt crisis, so the consumers are cutting back on spending.

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

Socio-Cultural Abercrombie & Fitch is known for using sexually explicit photographs as advertising. This is against many different religions values and believes. For example the Muslim religion is really against this kind of advertising. Abercrombie has to be aware of the different values and believes in different communities so that they will not offend anyone. By using the same images for advertising for all countries, the target group in some countries will not be reached and there the products will not be sold. In westernized countries, shock advertising works really good and is a common way used to get a target groups attention, to stand out and to lure them to buy your product. Another important point is the increase of the life expectancy around the world. The target group of Abercrombie is between 18 and 22. The aging population is increasing so this is a great market to focus on. Abercrombie created a high-end brand Ruehl No.925 that focused on consumers aged 25-35. But this brand failed and does not exist anymore. At last more than two thirds of Americans are obese, Abercrombie doesn’t want larger people shopping in their store, they only want thin and beautiful people. They also do not produce clothing in bigger sizes. By doing this Abercrombie and Fitch are missing out on a big audience.

Technological The popularity of consumers purchasing online is increasing and this has given Abercrombie & Fitch the possibility to advertise their products online via their website and gives the consumers also the possibility to purchase their product online around the world. Also their target group is really active online, so this is a great communication channel to reach the younger target audience. Also the transportation has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. Roads have improved and there are also more flights each day from the larger airports. This has a big influence on the delivery time for products that are sent by sea, road and air. This has great benefits for companies who have to deliver their products to clients ordering online. The products are reaching the consumers in a shorter amount of time.

 

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

SWOT Strengths 1. They are present in about 300 locations in the whole of United States and over 1100 stores across the 4 different brands including Hollister etc. 2. They have a very good brand name worldwide 3. They have about 9000 employees working for them who are highly involved in detailing and perfect craftsmanship 4. They have strong brand advertising 5. They are a very large retailer of casual clothing and have many subsidiary brands 6. Their stores have been considered to be the most innovative kind of store format as they always have entertaining music playing in the background, along with amazing interiors and cologne being sprayed on all customers 7. Unique sales strategy and excellent marketing making a high brand recall Weaknesses 1. Strong competition means limited market share, and also problem from fake imitations 2. Bad Publicity Opportunities 1. Abercrombie is located in countries where there is a free market-oriented economy with rules and regulations to protect them right from imitation 2. Online Retail is gaining a large amount of importance 3. Emerging markets growth for new customer types, such as the more older target audience and the obese target audience. 4. The shock approach of advertising works really well in the westernized countries. Threats 1. Slowdown in spending on clothing because of the bad economic situation 2. Obesity rate is high, the demand for bigger sizes are increasing 3. Life expectancy is increasing, the older target market is expanding 4. Not all communities accept such provocative advertising, because of religious beliefs.

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

5. Communication strategy  

Abercrombie & Fitch started as a small specialty shop in New York City, selling high quality outdoor apparel, camping, fishing and hunting gear. The first shop opened by David Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch in 1892. The first catalog had 456 pages and was mailed to 50,000 people in 1909. They only managed to break even from the costs of producing and mailing the catalog, almost bankrupting the company. In 1939The company branded itself as “The greatest sporting goods store in the world.” This one shop and their mailing list they managed to generate millions of dollars in sales. In the 1960’s Abercrombie & Fitch opened new stores in other cities outside of New York. In 1992, Mike Jeffries became president of the company and changed the target group to a much younger segment. He also changed the store from a high quality sporting goods store to a clothing store selling an” experience”, which fits the company’s new luxury lifestyle. The company has now gone on to opening many flagship and mall stores around the globe. Abercrombie emphasizes its brand value, brand vision and has done since CEO Mike Jeffries came. Abercrombie & Fitch says: “The brand is our lifestyle, our focus; it ensures growth and promises stability. A great brand is a center of growth and revenue; it represents a relationship with customers. It’s not faddish chip to be cashed in on shortsighted gains. The value of having a great brand is far reaching and cannot be overstated —it’s a snowball effect. The A&F label gives us the ability to evolve, creating endless growth opportunities. It helps us attract the brightest, most talented young people from around the country. It attracts millions to our website. It allows for greater profit margins. It lessens the risk of moving on new business concepts. It promotes innovation. It ensures long-term profitability. It adds built-in value to everything we produce. It accelerates growth. It stabilizes. It gives focus

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

and direction. It produces an emotional response in consumers.” 1 (CEO, Mike Jeffries)

Communication strategy By creating a communication strategy Abercrombie & Fitch are then forced to prioritise the issues that need to be communicated, develop key messages and communicate objectives that can be measured. Internal communication will influence employees to think, feel or do something in response. Relevant channels are chosen to communicate the messages.2 As technology has developed so has channels for communication though newer channels are not necessarily better, it is vital to stay on the same channels as the target group. Internal communication can be improved by using newer technology such as face-to-face communication. This face to face communication provides a good platform for a two way dialogue, not only can employees see their colleagues but also their leaders whilst giving feedback etc. A global survey of the firm Towers Watson shows that effective employee communication is a leading indicator of financial performance.3 This proves that it is crucial for higher performing firms to budget their internal communication, prioritize it and last but not least measure its performance. If possible the company should measure the internal and external communications by (ROI) return on investment. This can be very tricky to accomplish however a much needed tool to measure the efforts and to keep improving the internal and external communication. Due to the PR crises a communication strategy must be implied in a very strategic manner in order to reach each sub-goal.

                                                                                                                        1

Abercrombie  &  Fitch:  Mission  statement,  relationship  with  brands  not  customers,  Retrieved  February  27,  2014   from  http://retailindustry.about.com/od/retailbestpractices/ig/Company-­‐Mission-­‐Statements/Abercrombie-­‐-­‐-­‐ Fitch-­‐Mission-­‐Statement.htm   2 3

 Tench,  Ralph  &  Yeomans  Liz:  Exploring  Public  Relations  page,  267.  Third  Edition  2014    Tench,  Ralph  &  Yeomans  Liz:  Exploring  Public  Relations  page,  269.  Third  Edition  2014   8  

 


Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

Objectives Building trust and creating a platform for consumer participation should be the key objective for Abercrombie & Fitch. This can be succeeded in a simple call to action plea. A positioning statement is needed to connect the consumers with the brand and its core values. It is not easy to find Abercrombie and Fitch’s mission, vision and values. This could be easily sold by stating their mission “We are committed to providing comfortable and long lasting clothes that look good.” on their website under “Home.” •

Attract consumers both online and in physical stores

To enhance brand loyalty and stimulate repeat purchase

To regain brand identity

To create awareness of the brands vision, mission and values.

Channels To improve their PR crises and bad publicity Abercrombie & Fitch must use these media options in order to restore their reputation and gain loyalty. Advertising: TV adverts -showing all kinds of people in all shapes and sizes. Direct marketing: Direct mails -reminding their loyal consumers they are important. Internet promotion: Social media –being interactive with their target group, in a positive manner. Publicity: Press Releases – interviews that show the CEO and how he wants himself and the company to be perceived, regaining a positive image, Sponsor events –creating a win-win scenario for the company and the environment. By using these channels to communicate their mission, vision and values the public and shareholders will regain faith, external but also internal groups will begin to perceive the corporation as it chooses to be seen and not for something the CEO once said.

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

Execute campaign Once the media has been selected and is to be revealed to the public, it is important that the right advertising reaches the right target group at the right time. Furthermore, evaluating the process of the communication strategy is the key to success and not relying on the industry but interacting with the specific target group.4

                                                                                                                        4

 Jobber,  David,  Principles  and  Practice  of  marketing,  The  McGraw-­‐Hill  Companies,  sixth  edition  2010  

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

6. Stakeholders Communication Issues Customers The most important communication issue at Abercrombie & Fitch is a lack of communication towards the customers. This is partially due to the events that caused a big uproar and crisis at Abercrombie & Fitch, which consists of the CEO speaking out during an interview in 2006 saying the clothes are only for good looking, thin, young and cool people that has resurfaced on the internet. The A&F stores also play into this by only hiring good looking people to work at the stores, that live up to a lot of appearance based standards from the A&F perception of attractiveness. What the CEO didn’t realize is that their customers consist of a wide range and variety of people, who are appealed to the idea of an Abercrombie & Fitch item by the style, the emotional value and status that comes with purchasing these items. The uproar caused by this interview has gone worldwide as a tool on how not to market your brand and communicate with the public and customers, a lot of customers might feel like they don’t belong in this target group or they don’t want to purchase from a brand that has this exclusive, superficial target group. This all comes down to a communication issue, the CEO should have communicated differently, for example by explaining how the brand is aiming to make people feel and look better, cool and a way to fit in with the it-crowd.

Priorities • •

Our priority is to make sure that our message is clear, concise and understandable. We have to focus on our mission and vision and the art of translating this in a way the stakeholder group can understand this message and to which it adds value to the brand as opposed to declining it.

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Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

Communication Issues Prospective customers/Community The uproar and communication issues of Abercrombie & Fitch have not only affected the customers but also the prospective customers & community. Thin or thick, many people were repelled by the words of the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch. The brand that used to be known as sporty, athletic and stylish is now controversial and seen as a discriminating brand. Not only prospective customers who don’t fit in the Abercrombie & Fitch perspective of attractive won’t consider buying, but Also thin and lean people are not considering the brand anymore. Why are the lean and thin people not interested anymore? They don’t want to represent a brand that is known for bullying and discriminating not thin or not alethic people. This not only affected the prospective customers but the whole community, by excluding a big group of customers the whole community is affected. It enhances the idea of bullying and discriminating. Which caused people the fire back at Abercrombie & Fitch and give them more negative attention.

Priorities • • •

Reaching out to the Community in a positive way Changing the communication methods, while keeping the brand core clear. Putting the focus on healthy and sporty instead of thin and attractive

Communication Issues shareholders A major issue with shareholders is that they hear all the good news but the bad news is more difficult to find out. So also with this stakeholder there is a lack in communication. The bad news is of high importance for the shareholders since they are interested in the profitability of the company, whether the investments are well spend, it is also important to keep these shareholders updated on recent developments within the company, although we don’t want to scare them off with the bad news, so we have to make sure to communicate better. And in case of hick-ups, crises and problems within the brand, making sure we have a plan to solve the problem and communicate this to the shareholders instantly. Another issue with this lack in communication is that when the shareholders get updates and information from media sources, or companies that don’t represent us, t could reflect badly on us, and the information could be incorrect.

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Communication objectives •

By the end of the year, all customers will understand the brand’s identity, vision, mission and message in a way that will shed a positive light on the brand and add brand value.

In 2015, customers will be more involved with the brand and be given recent updates on the brand, making sure there won’t be a lack in communication between brand and customer and to help create brand loyalty.

In 2015 the brand image will be restored and is no longer affected by the communication problems.

By the end of the year, all communication with shareholders will be improved, they will get regular updates and business plans to stay informed of plans, problems and solutions of the brand.

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7. Strategic Analysis Strategy After the research Abercrombie & Fitch can see that there is a problem with their communication to the Stakeholders. The major problems are: • • •

Not updating and communicating to shareholders Discriminating behavior against customers Having a bad influence on the community

The following methods can help Abercrombie & Fitch to reach their communication priorities and objectives. • • •

Two-way symmetric communication (Dialogue) Reach out internet-campaign Storytelling

Why Two-way symmetric communication? In the research we can see that the shareholders have a difficult time keeping up with the bad and good news and are not updated. By updating them and starting the conversation, the shareholders will feel more involved in the brand and trusted. Also the customers, potential customers and community would benefit from a dialogue. The customers feel after the big uproar distant and not involved but rejected by the brand. By starting the conversation people will feel more involved. Especially when we will put the enfaces on healthy and sporty instead of thin and attractive. The message is still the same, but it will make a world difference to the customer. This way the brand can keep their values but the message and communication will be softer. The stakeholders will feel part of the brand.

Why an Internet campaign? As we can see with other brands an Internet campaign can work in a brands favor and shift the attention from the negative and turn it into something positive. A few years back Pepsi did a major campaign where they reached out to the community, by sponsoring good ideas and charities. You could subscribe on Internet with a maximum of a 1000 contesters a month. More then 20 million people watched the contest. But the question remains how can we imply this for Abercrombie & Fitch? As mentioned before the strategy is to shift the focus but keeping the brands core value. From skinny and attractive to healthy and sporty. Which totally fits the image of today’s perception, Strong is the new skinny. By sponsoring health initiatives and sport events for the community they will turn their brand core values into something positive. 14    


Public Relations of Abercrombie and Fitch

Why Storytelling? Big brands like Burberry, Nike, Burger King use storytelling as a PR strategy. Storytelling is a great way to re-urn trust. Stakeholders want to understand the message and see and feel the product. Storytelling is doing all that. The Stakeholders will understand the energy of the brand. By telling the same story in every language with great visuals the brand will go global. By finding a greater connecter than just the product, people will be more compelled to buy the product because the brand represents their lifestyle.

Methods to use two-way symmetric communication and storytelling Two symmetric communication: • • • • •

Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Instagram. Local twitter for each country in own language. Interactive website with health and sport tips/motivation/videos/links/recipes. In and out store events focusing on a healthy lifestyle Instant messaging via social media and sites. Reach-out internet campaign

Storytelling: • • •

TV add, prints adds which clearly tell the story that’s supports a healthy lifestyle, while connecting with the products of Abercrombie & Fitch. Also using food-health bloggers to tell the Abercrombie & Fitch story. Using a celebrity endorsement to tell the story.

Social media Social media is a big part of today’s communication. Allowing people to talk back and start a conversation will create trust and a better understanding of the brand. Social media is a great platform to do a dialogue. We know out of research that most people will try to find the brand on twitter or Facebook in their own language or country.

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Interactive website An interactive website can improve the relationship and sales of the webshop. The interactive website includes: • • • • •

A survey where people can give ideas on how to improve the site Instant messaging, people can ask Abercrombie & Fitch for food, fitness and styling tips and they will be messaged back right away. Food and health blogs for restoring the brand image and repeating the brand values Abercrombie & Fitch workout and cook videos for a greater connecter Comment sections and links to own Social media and blogs.

In and out store events In- & outstore events will create a real movement and connection with customers, potential customers and the community. Organizing a 5km run can do this or organizing a day were people can taste and learn about healthy food in the store.

Reach- out campaign The reach-out campaign is the first step in the PR plan. This campaign will restore the damaged brand image and let customers connect with Abercrombie & Fitch again. By donating money for the best 5 ideas which include health or fitness. On the online contest people can vote for their favorite ideas and will be interactive.

TV/Print adds The TV and print adds need to tell the story of the new and improved Abercrombie & Fitch who are healthy and sporty.

Food/Health bloggers & Celebrity endorsement By using food and health bloggers we will reach the right audience and let them also tell the story for Abercrombie and Fitch. With the celebrity endorsement it is very important that we use the right celebrity. We want to use a young celebrity who will speak to our target group and be the face of the story that we are trying to tell. By letting the celebrity do a weakly blog on the website, be interactive on Facebook and of course appear at certain events.

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8.Evaluating the Strategic Plan Methods to evaluate the strategic Plan To measure the success of the new strategic plan we will use following tools: • • • • • • • •

Pop- up evaluation window on website A&F, where customers/visitors can leave notes and improvements. Sending surveys in email to the customer base, by filling this in, they can win an A&F Gift certificate to spend on any items from A&F. Collect sales rates and compare them to previous sales rates. Reviews on the instant messaging Ratings on TV-add Number of contestants on the Internet contest and number of views Number of participants on the in and out store events Number of retweets on Twitter, likes on Facebook and reactions on Instagram and Pintrest.

By doing this we can evaluate the strategic plan to the best of our abilities and learn to make even more improvements to the strategic plan and tactics.

 

   

 

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9.Conclusion  

After performing a SWOT analysis on Abercrombie and Fitch it can be concluded that this is a really strong and innovative brand. But the weaknesses of this brand has a bigger impact on the stakeholders than the strengths itself. Weaknesses such as discrimination of employees and customers have a big influence on the image of Abercrombie and Fitch. When looking at the opportunities and threats it can be seen that there are a lot of opportunities that this brand is missing out on ,for example the big market “the obese group “that they are not catering to. Abercrombie can get their good publicity back by prioritizing their issues. By creating a communication strategy, Abercrombie & Fitch is forced to prioritize the issues that need to be communicated, develop key messages and communicate objectives that can be measured. To get out of the PR crises and bad publicity Abercrombie & Fitch must use several media options in order to restore their reputation and gain loyalty. Media options such as advertising, direct marketing, internet promotion and publicity can be used. By using these channels to communicate their mission, vision and values the shareholders will regain faith, external but also internal groups will begin to perceive the corporation as it chooses to be seen. Abercrombie and Fitch’s major problems are; not updating and communicating to shareholders, discriminating behavior against customers and having a bad influence on the community. The methods that can be used to reach their communication priorities and objectives are; two-way symmetric communication, reach out internet-campaign, storytelling. The two way symmetric communication is useful because the shareholders have a difficult time keeping up with the bad and good news and are not updated. By updating them and starting the conversation, the shareholders will feel more involved in the brand and trusted By making internet campaigns the strategy is to shift the focus but keeping the brands core value. This is changed from skinny and attractive to healthy and sporty By using the storytelling technique costumers will find a greater connecter than just the product, they will be more compelled to buy the product because the brand represents their lifestyle. After the methods are executed there will be an evaluation of the strategic plan with the help of several tools to measure if the plan was successful or not.

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Literature Websites: Forbes.The perverce brilliance ofAbercrombie & Fitch’s CEO. Retrieved February 27,2014 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerdooley/2013/05/16/abercrombie-ceo/ Hufftingtonpost.Abercrombie closing stores by 2015. Retrieved February 27,2014 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/15/abercrombie-closing-stores-2012_n_1280199.html Smallbusiness.Macroenvironmental factors affecting clothing industry. Retrieved February 28,2014 from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/macroenvironmental-factors-affecting-clothingindustry-37254.html Abercrombie & Fitch. A&F Website. Retrieved February 27, 2014 from http://eu.abercrombie.com/ Abercrombie & Fitch. A&F Careers. Retrieved February 27, 2014 from http://www.anfcareers.com/ Cosmopolitan. Confession: What It's Really Like Working at Abercrombie &Fitch's Corporate Headquarters. Retrieved February 27, 2014 from http://www.cosmopolitan.com/celebrity/fashion/abercrombie-employee Hufftingtonpost. Abercrombie Dress Code Enables Discrimination, Insiders Say. Retrieved February 27, 2014 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/18/abercrombie-dresscode_n_3943131.html Abercrombie & Fitch. A&F Cares: Corporate Responsibility Report. Retrieved February 27, 2014 from http://www.anfcares.org/pdfs/12.19.11%20CR%20REPORT.pdf Abercrombie & Fitch: Mission statement, relationship with brands not customers, Retrieved February 27, 2014 from http://retailindustry.about.com/od/retailbestpractices/ig/Company-Mission-

Statements/Abercrombie---Fitch-Mission-Statement.htm

Books: Tench, Ralph & Yeomans Liz: Exploring Public Relations. Third Edition 2014 Jobber, David, Principles and Practice of marketing, The McGraw-Hill Companies, sixth edition 2010 Strategic planning for public relations by Ronald D. Smith, APR Buffalo State College

   

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Pr report final version