Taking Target Marketing To A Whole New Disgusting Level

Marketing is part of what I do at the salon where I work. Though I don’t have a college degree in the subject, I consider myself to be a little bit savvy about finding our target audience (middle-aged, well-off women) and gearing our advertising to them. The entire idea behind good marketing is to make your service or product irresistable to a certain group of people, right? Think about the commercials that are placed in the middle of children’s programming: how many times have your kids declared, “I want that!”, just because a 30-second spot about some junky toy that will eventually end up under the bed or at the bottom of the closet was cleverly placed during the broadcast of “Phineas and Ferb”? A little annoying, but marketing departments are just doing their job, right?

What happens though, when a marketing department encourages bad behavior? Over the summer, I went to McDonalds with the boys, and was annoyed to read our cups:


“Fries taste better when you sneak out for them.”

Really? Hmm. I took the picture with my cell phone and then simmered on it for a while. Then I thought, “Alright, who is REALLY going to take action after reading a McDonalds cup and start sneaking out for fries?”

And I let it go.

Last week, my friend Debbie posted a picture on her Facebook page that she had received as part of an e-mail ad from Abercrombie (a retail label that is famous for controversial advertising directed at teenagers). I couldn’t believe it. (Well, I could, considering the source. But I was completely disgusted.)


“It may look like you’re listening in class but appearances can be deceiving. Text away in our softest fleece with the perfect pocket to conceal your latest conversation.”

Are you kidding me? As the parent of two teenaged boys in the 21st Century where there is sexting, easy-to-find porn (and other things they don’t need to be looking at) online, loosened standards in the Motion Picture Association rating system, and a general blurring of what’s acceptable in society, I don’t need for Abercrombie to start yet another “fire” that I have to extinguish. I have enough problems trying to raise these two young men to adulthood, relatively unscathed and relatively well-behaved. I realize that many teens (including my own) are going to take certain risks (or try to) as they find their way to adulthood, and many of them think that they are beyond authority, but seriously, for a company to basically tell my kids that they can actively and SNEAKILY engage in texting at school–something that is not only against the rules but wrong for so many other reasons–if they buy these fleece tops, I’m not happy about it, to say the least. It’s one thing to advertise to a target audience, but it’s quite another to encourage that target audience to break rules. Additionally in this case, the fact that this company is encouraging teens to distract themselves from their education is, to me, unfortunate.

The only other thing I can say is that I’m glad my kids have never cared about labels, so we’ve never had an Abercrombie issue–or article of clothing–in this house. If I were an Abercrombie customer, this ad would be enough for me to not shop there ever again.





  • Anonymous

    from Dawn:

    I 'get' why you are upset, but really? When you were a teen, did you read an ad and then act upon it? And your boys won't really read that and act upon it either. 😉

    FTR….I do not support Abercrombie in any way, shape, or form. Fortunately, my teen is also not 'into' labels.

    (and just because I'm not as upset over this as you are, I still LOVE YOU dearly, Melisa!)

  • LceeL

    Kids don't read Ads. They could care less. They see something they like and they buy it or beg for it from Mom and Dad. And many kids won't buy it because it IS trendy – but they still won't have read the Ad.

  • Melisa with one S

    You are exactly right on all counts. I know that. Still infuriates me though! 🙂

    love you too! 🙂

  • PJ Mullen

    I'm with Lou in that the Tivo/DVR world we live in most advertising these days is just noise and they stretch the boundaries of good taste just to get attention. That being said, I totally would not buy from them because it is irresponsible and goes against everything I'd be reinforcing with my son, like focusing on his education. Then again, I wouldn't spend that much money on his clothes, so he wouldn't even be in that store to see what they have to sell anyway 🙂

  • Mom24

    Abercrombie lost me years ago. I have refused to set foot in the store and my kids have always known and respected that. With all they stand for I just don't understand any other position frankly.

    Their attitudes are definitely anti-kid when you think about it. Underage drinking, promiscuous sex, sneaky behavior does not equal success in life. Not by a long shot.

  • Meeko Fabulous

    The fat kid in me wants one of those sweaters so I can sneak fries into school . . . LOL! 🙂

  • Huckdoll

    Wow. The McDonald's ad is typically ridiculous like all of their ads ~ I think if one must sneak food (and especially fast food), they've got some serious issues, but the Abercrombie ad is going a little far I'd say. I don't care if a teen doesn't read the ads or what; that statement makes the company look really bad. I wouldn't buy from any company encouraging my kids to put their social life before their education.

  • Heather

    I totally understand why you are upset. That being said, from what I understand*, parenting is all about picking your battles. I would think that this would be one where, as a parent, I wouldn't worry too much about. If it were me, I'd rather my kid text in class, then be cutting class, or cutting class to get high, drink, or have sex.

    Perspective, my friend.

    Obviously, I'd love them to not to ANY of the above, but..if I had to choose? Texting it is.

    *I'm not a parent so my opinion doesn't count! HAH!

  • NYC Girl

    Unfortunately its another example of my dad's favorite saying;

    "One half of the world lives on the other half of the world."

    I didn't want to agree with him but as I go through my life I realize they are totally right.

    I'm in advertising and I think that add sucks. Not so much the fries (i find that funny) the Abercrombie one.

  • DaddysFishBowl

    I think the ads are bad; but like the others have said, how many teens are really going to read the text? Their motivation for buying/wanting items is totally different from ours. It still sucks that they would go to such lengths and I think that they'd probably think twice about airing a commercial with the same slogan repeated audibly

  • Mr. Man


    You know this is a perfect topic for one of my "Have You Lost Your Damn Mind?" posts. Companies realize that kids have more disposable income than ever before, so they market directly to the kids highlighting behaviors that are interpreted as "cool" or "rebellious". But when a teen is abducted or killed because it has become cool to sneak out of the house at night, McD's won't have any part of that lawsuit.

  • House of Jules

    I'm embarrassed for my line of work how awful those campaigns/taglines are. Teens are not paying attention to that stuff, anyway. They're looking for boobs, mostly.

  • seashore subjects

    I absolutely agree with you. Although I have been anti-ambercrombie since they made inappropriate panties for little girls. They absolutely disgust me on so many levels. I too am happy that we have label-oblivious children.

  • Michelle

    Why this is an attitude that needs to be perpetuated or is considered to be "cool" is beyond me. I'm really frightened to see what high school will be like when the wee ones are there… and when my grandchildren are? Yikes. *sigh*

    Abercrombie was NEVER on my shopping list, but it's definitely staying that way for good. So how'd you raise kids who don't care about labels (our ummmm area and school district is not likely to help that).

  • Melisa with one S

    PJ: me too; we get most of their clothes at places like JCPenney, thank goodness! (jeans at Target) They may not be style leaders at school, but I'm happy about that. Less stress, less expense. 🙂

    Mom24: I find myself wondering if teenagers make up the Abercrombie marketing department.

    Meeko: LOL! Like Napoleon Dynamite with his "Tots", huh?

    Huckdoll: My thoughts exactly.

    Heather: Well of COURSE if I had to choose I'd pick texting over all that other stuff. 🙂 I totally agree with "choosing your battles". BUT, let's say my kid bought a shirt like that and was caught texting at school? I would choose to suspend his phone account. If I don't stay on top of stuff like that (and I'm not talking about being overly strict on unreasonable things, but I feel strongly that school is not the place for texting during class), it gets out of hand.

    NYCGirl: Yeah, after I reflected on the McD's cup I didn't think it was such a big deal. Just a minor example of my point.

    DaddysFishBowl: You're right; the idea of doing an actual commercial with someone saying that would not go over well at all!

    Mr. Man: It's yours! Do your post; I can't wait to read it! (I'm sure you can add on and put your own twist on it. I love your "Have you lost your damn mind" posts!)

    Julesie: haha, you're right.

    Seashore: Amen!

    Michelle: Your area and school district don't matter when it comes to what you allow in your family unit. I live in an area that is–ahem–quite similar to yours and though it's difficult sometimes for my kids to watch many of their friends get whatever they want on demand (including labeled clothing), we stand strong and have been rewarded with down-to-earth kids. Come to my boot camp. 🙂

  • The Devoted Dad

    This is exactly why I don't like that company- and for other reasons too. A) They purposefully exclude and B) they undermine as a company. Very Questionable values there. -Jason